The Role of Community Information in the Virtual Metropolis: The Co-Existence of Virtual and Proximate Terrains

The Role of Community Information in the Virtual Metropolis: The Co-Existence of Virtual and Proximate Terrains

Paul M.A. Baker (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-69-8.ch005
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Abstract

Traditionally communities have been linked to the underlying geography, so that the identity of a community, for instance a neighborhood in a city, was linked to an underlying physical place, as part of a legal jurisdiction. A different kind of community is made possible by the self-identification of individuals with a common interest. In defining the concept of community informatics, Michael Gurstein in his preceding introductory chapter, makes a distinction between the type of “virtual community” made possible by the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs), and the augmented communication that ICTs can facilitate in a physical community. Thus the term connotes at least two different kinds of aggregate relationships, the first primarily physical (proximate), and the second, primarily conceptual (virtual). An example of this would include, for instance, alumni of the hypothetical Prestigious University who, while no longer physically present on campus, maintain strong identities as alumni, which can be thought of a part of the conceptual space defining “the University.” Initially they were part of a physical community, but ultimately they are part of a virtual community. Another variant of this would be primarily virtual, citizens who consider themselves part of a large metropolitan area, for instance, Washington, DC, and refer to themselves as Washingtonians even if they might live in an adjacent jurisdiction in the neighboring state of Virginia. In this sense we could say that in either case we had a virtual (or conceptual) relationship that bears only a symbolic connection with the underlying “place.”

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