The objective of this course is to enhance and extend our understanding of virtual or online communities. We will look not only at technologies for 'community building' such as listservs, discussion boards, fora, and portals, but also at successful and perhaps unsuccessful attempts at online community building.
We will attempt to define 'community' in several ways throughout our meetings: commercial, sociological, common terms as well as 'communities of practice' 'communities of faith' 'wired physical communities' 'learning communities' 'interest groups' and other claims for community.
But we will also look at what is lost or restricted in these various definitions and conceptions of community -- difference, conflict and its resolutions, exclusion vs inclusion,
After an introductory period of a couple of weeks, seminar members will be asked to select at least one site claiming to represent a virtual community and one topic area involving virtual or other communities as represented by the readings for ongoing study and for class presentation.
Each seminar member will give a 20 - 30 minute presentation describing their community and describe how it fits the definitions of community and how community is facilitated and how commmunity is restricted and governed drawing on our readings and discussions.
The class discussion list will act to extend the class discussions and to help prepare the class for each presentation (in advance please). Participation in discussions, e-mail and seminar, will be considered in grading.