Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Online Communities

Steinkuehler & Williams:

I agree with your hypothesis that participating in virtual communities has definitely affected its user's social capital. These online communities give its users the opportunity to interact and engage with others who obviously share similar interests, particularly the interest in virtual participation. These MMOs are like "third worlds" because it is as easy to meet someone online as it is to walk across the street and spark up a conversation with a stranger. The only difference is the environment, and in some cases, the names/physical appearance/etc because people have the ability to create online identities. MMOs give the opportunity for expression and it is basically serving as an outlet for its users. In Second Life, there are people who "hang out" there or party in the clubs. I like the idea of "neutral ground", defined as "where individuals can enter and leave as they see fit without having to ask permission or receive an invitation." It is interesting because I feel like this makes it easier for people to control their participation in MMOs, which people may prefer in social engagement. I definitely think that people like the idea of not having to be physically surveyed by others; they are more open to express themselves freely. For example, Figure 1 clearly exemplifies how virtual communication offers a more comfortable environment for people. People get to know you better online because it is much easier to interact with people. Initially, people in online communities are looking for social interaction or engagement; therefore, participating in online communities are open invitations for conversation. I also semi-agree with the statement: "As complex, long-term collaborative activities become increasingly prevalent, the game becomes increasingly more entangling, time-consuming and work-like." In a video I watched in class, many people using Second Life were totally consumed by their online activities. One woman eventually started a few businesses in Second Life and that became her primary job. She had become so entrapped into building and working in Second Life that it actually became a factor in her real life. In conclusion, MMOs and other online communities shape how people interact in social environments because they have become like another hang-out spot for people, regardless if it is a virtual world.

J. Howard

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