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Virtual Communities Taking Over the World One Friend Request at a Time

By IGI Global on Jan 3, 2011
Over the last decade, there has been a phenomenal increase in virtual communities. This signifies our augmenting desire to connect, work, share, exchange, play and socialize with others irrespective of time, space, speed and distance. Today, more and more people are using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Blogs, Wikis, LinkedIn, and many others, to help them carry out daily activities. As new technologies become an interwoven aspect of our lives, it is apparent that traditional methods for studying social systems often lack the detailed understanding of aspects of human, social and cultural life.

Virtual Communities have become an omnipresent part of mainstream popular culture. According to statistics, nearly one out of every 10 people worldwideuses Facebook. The site handles 1.7 billion interactions a minute. Almost 1 million new people sign up for Facebook every single day. With Time magazine's announcement listing Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and multibillionaire CEO of Facebook, as 2010's Person of the Year, such communities will continue to be a part of our everyday lives. The magazine's Managing Editor, Richard Stengel, said of Zuckerberg , "he is creating a new system of exchanging information that has become both indispensable and sometimes a little frightening" — and it's changing our lives "in ways that are innovative and even optimistic"( www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2036683_2037183,00.html). As virtual communities have accelerated in popularity, our need to understand them has grown commensurately. Teenagers are gaming and texting, elderly parents are friend requesting, and businesses are locating and vetting suppliers from other continents. But how do users begin to tease apart this evolving socio-technical system?

IGI Global, an information science and technology publisher is satisfying the need for this methodological consideration in their latest release, the Handbook of Research on Methods and Techniques for Studying Virtual Communities: Paradigms and Phenomena. The large volume examines tools for data collection, analysis and presentation in virtual communities. Chapters cover studies on various types of virtual communities, making this reference a comprehensive source of research for those in the social sciences and humanities. Additionally, the research supports executives and corporate leaders concerned with the management of expertise, social capital, competence knowledge, and information and organizational development in different types of virtual communities and environments.

The editor, Ben Kei Daniel, brings together a global, savvy group of authors to survey a broad spectrum of methods and approaches from a variety of disciplines. This is the first book that describes various research methods relevant for virtual communities while also providing readers with ways in which to apply these methods. Since there is no comprehensive book on research methods for studying virtual communities, this book is likely to have enormous impact on scholarly and practical profound knowledge on doing research on virtual communities and overall, makes strong theoretical and practical contributions to the field.

Click on the link to learn more about the Handbook of Research on Methods and Techniques for Studying Virtual Communities: Paradigms and Phenomena.
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