Virtual Communities

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The term virtual communities can be defined as online environments in which people with common interests, values, opinions, etc. can socially interact. In The Virtual Community written by Howard Rheingold virtual communities are defined as "social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace."(1) Virtual communities provide people with the opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals instantaneously from anywhere on the globe.

Virtual communities are considered a vital aspect of the Web 2.0 concept, which depends upon social interaction and exchange between users online. An important philosophy behind web 2.0 is that it is a social phenomenon referring to an approach to creating and distributing Web content itself, characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and "the market as a conversation". Professional communities are a form of virtual communities which provide environments for professionals to share the body of knowledge of their professions such as similar working cultures, problem perceptions, problem-solving techniques, professional values, and behavior.


- Low cost of Internet Connections
- Mobility
- The Increasing Use of Internet
- Globalization
- Business in Society
- Community Feeling
- Increasing Mobility
- The Globalization of Culture (or Cultural Globalization)
- Need for Information On Demand
- People's need for communication and information
- Power of Information-anywhere, everywhere
- Increasing social isolation


- Growing privacy and security concerns
- People fear incrimination for remarks they have made on the web why is monitored by authorities
- Fear that time spent in virtual communities detracts from social skills in the real world


Virtual communities empower the individual and provides an outlet for the 'voice of the voiceless'. The possibilities are endless: chatting, 'living' in a virtual world, sharing your views & opinions with the world, building social- or business networks, and so on.

Basically, virtual communities give people the opportunity to share whatever they want with the world, while guaranteeing a certain degree of anonymity. This is for many people a fascinating and irresistible force which attracts them to get involved and be a part of virtual communities. For many people, virtual communities provide an additional dimension to life, because in this virtual world people don't judge you on how you look, but just accept you for who you are and what you say. It will change the way people interact with each other.


- Howard Rheingold


Web Resources:

(1) Howard Rheingold's The Virtual Community
(2) Wikipedia: Virtual communities