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Online Communities and the Future of Culture

By sebpaquet in Culture
Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:50:14 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Online communities afford individuals the freedom to move across cultures as they see fit. This makes them emerge as bastions of intellectual life where culture-makers increasingly like to hang out. This evolution means that over time, online communities will become a vital part of cultural development.


Online communities are social groups where the bulk of communication between members occurs on a computer network, and where it is possible to establish relationships of a personal nature using only that network.

Communities have varying degrees of openness. Every community is surrounded by fences of one kind or another, hoops you have to jump through to get in. Some communities have high fences; they are pretty exclusive. Others have low fences; they readily let people in. Open online communities are those which stand at the latter end of the spectrum. In such communities, people and discourse are easily accessible independently of geographical/economic factors or prior social connections. In what follows I'll simply speak of "online communities" although I'm really talking about open online communities.

Online communities and cultural mobility

Online communities are unlike previous forms of community because they dramatically alter the economics of motion across cultures.

First of all, entering an online community is extremely easy. You don't have to physically move to a particular location. You just need to click to have a look at a particular community. You can lurk for as long as you want and learn about the community without fear of embarassment. You can "try before you buy" and back up at any time. This is not true of other kinds of social groups (geographical communities, enterprises, professions, families, circles of friends...). Can you sample three companies, or three professions, in the same week just to see if you like their culture?

Second, the quantum of involvement is usually quite low, meaning that there is no specific minimal investment that you have to make to stay in. You can satisfy yourself with reading other members' contributions. You can post a few sentences and interact a little with members. Or you can get deeply involved in the community.

Third, and most importantly, online communities are not mutually exclusive. You can join as many online communities as you wish and decide how much you'll get involved in each on a day-to-day basis. You come and go as you please.

Community straddling

Because of this extra flexibility, it becomes easier to become a community straddler -- that is, someone who participates in several communities, be it simultaneously or sequentially, and who understands the culture of each to a certain extent.

Not all, but many people are willing to move across communities in such a fashion. Why? My guess is that these people are addicted to learning, and that moving is for them part of a process of personal growth. They've done their time in a particular community; they don't learn as much as they used to do in that group; there are questions they're asking themselves, directions that they find intriguing that aren't considered interesting in their community, but for which other communities seem to provide good leads. Moving around is a way of discovering their own likes and dislikes.

These people do not feel irrevocably bound to a particular community. They see themselves as multidimensional: as opposed to saying "I'm a doctor, don't expect me to teach you anything" or "I'm just a programmer, don't bug me with politics", they'll say "Well, right now I'm into this and that and that, and if you have something new to show me I just might take a plunge!"

Community straddlers keep the air fresh in a community; they help keep it alive. They contribute to the exchange of ideas between cultures which would otherwise hear little about each other.  As an example, music evolves tremendously when artists dive into new styles and fuse what they already know with what they're discovering. The same can be said of science or other parts of culture.

The elevated numbers of straddlers among online community folks heightens the diversity and intellectual vitality of the communities they're involved in. This in turn helps those communities grow. As a community develops multiple faces, its contact surface expands: more and more people can get drawn into it because they see in it something that attracts them.

Thus a positive feedback loop is set up, where membership and diversity grow simultaneously.

From the Trenches

Content and conversation grows too, and over time online communities are increasingly becoming good places to be to keep in touch with culture -- not just online culture, but culture at large -- in an customized and interpersonal fashion. Online communities thus become increasingly attractive to the people -- artists, scientists, soul-searchers, activists -- who actually make culture. It is a way for them to stay up to date, get new ideas, and establish relationships with individuals that they find interesting.

More and more of these people realize that good personal contacts will come more easily if they narrate their own work, spread the word about what they're trying to find or achieve, and overtly link their own thoughts with others' thoughts.

This means that, increasingly, new culture --as a process, not as a product -- is being documented in real-time online by the people who make it. This is a significant departure from the way things have traditionally been working. Think of the number of journalists it would take to follow up on all those little-known participants!

Because they simultaneously fuel individuals' growth and cultural development, online communities will be embraced by culture-makers and evolve to become a major part of the process that is culture. It will happen simply because online communities give people more freedom to explore and cultivate their interests, and because they increase their ability to connect with like-minded people, as compared to previously available means.

Thus, to summarize, online communities will be embraced on a large scale because they better fit people's cultural aspirations.


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Are you a community straddler?
o Yes 70%
o No 8%
o Uh, what's that? 20%

Votes: 58
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by sebpaquet

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Online Communities and the Future of Culture | 37 comments (30 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
To all online community straddlers! (4.50 / 2) (#1)
by sebpaquet on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:49:10 PM EST

To follow-up on the poll, here's a question for those who answered "yes" to the poll: What other online communities are you most involved in, and why? (an incredible opportunity for shameless self-promotion - don't miss it!)

I'm involved in... (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by billyjoeray on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 07:43:14 PM EST

Weblogs (My Weblog)

I was involved heavily in stealing music but alas no more.

[ Parent ]
I'd like to start a weblog (none / 0) (#27)
by sebpaquet on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 07:44:28 AM EST

but I'm not sure where to start. Radio seems like a good implementation in terms of quickly getting connected with others. Suggestions?

[ Parent ]
I lurk in far more ... (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 11:00:14 PM EST

... than I would ever have time in which to participate. I suspect there are many like me; reading lots of various places, but not willing to spend the effort and time to post to all of them.

[ Parent ]

Online communities (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by BlackStripe on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:42:19 AM EST

I don't like lurking unless the discussion is really interesting, I'd rather spend my time participating actively in the communities I care about. My two most active communities are Public Enemy's Enemy Board and K5. I also duck in and out of Hip Hop Infinity once a month or so and when I think about it I'll check in at Alternet, but the latter is usually pretty boring and I'd never recommend it to anyone.

My big interests are music (especially rap & hip-hop), politics, sports, computers, and revolution. More than anything else I like to seek out communities that challenge me. K5ers are very thoughtful and have a wide range of perspectives, even when they all have the same general opinion, so I really appreciate the debates I can get into here. The Enemy Board is amazing, everyone is highly educated not only in hip-hop culture but in everything from economics to quantum physics. Heads over there are great to get going with because we're all very agressive and we battle over the subtle differences in our otherwise very similar ideologies. My only recommendation to anyone who heads to the EB is just don't go if you have thin skin because we're all pretty harsh with each other. We kiss and make up but debates can get nasty. HHI is a great place, I just don't happen to have much time for it because I spend at least an hour a day on the EB and almost as much on Kuro5hin. Alternet simply doesn't challenge its audience, which is why I just don't bother anymore. Another place I like to drop science in once in a while is Davey D's Hip Hop Corner, but the message board interface sucks so I rarely keep up with threads. Anyway, that's all I can think of for now. If anyone knows of other communities that would suit my tastes I'd love to hear from you. Peace.

Blackstripe out.

"I normally take garbage records to the range and blow them away with my rifles."
- the one and only DJ Johnny "Juice" Rosado

[ Parent ]

If you are a member of a community (4.00 / 6) (#7)
by mami on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:21:29 PM EST

it means you don't leave that community to go somewhere else, you live there for good and make it a community.

I don't believe that online communities exist and have meaning. I rather would have a real life community than wasting time talking to some phantasy people, who occasionally get on my nerves. But I won't spoil your illusions and try to be a good sports.

Say what? (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by MadDreamer on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 12:31:36 AM EST

I don't believe that online communities exist

Hi, welcome to K5, the online community that you just posted your comment in.

[ Parent ]
Other than (4.75 / 4) (#12)
by mami on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 12:54:32 AM EST

some thoughts in the ether, I don't feel anything communal about K5. You are not my neighbor I can borrow some coffee from, you are not there, if I need someone to watch my kids, get help pushing my car out of the snow etc.

And of course, I don't see your lovely face. I know what you think, but what is it worth if they just hang somewhere in the ether? One day your name is MadDreamer, next day you come back as SweetDrummer and I never know who you are. In a community I know the people around me. So, forget it, there are no online communities, just illusions of community.

There is though some thought exchange, but I doubt that this makes it a community. It's a discussion without any consequences or meaning, unless you start to organize and meet each other in real life. Which is of course a possible and potential outcome.


[ Parent ]

The beauty of the system (5.00 / 5) (#13)
by MadDreamer on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 01:32:23 AM EST

It's a discussion without any consequences or meaning

Yes, and no. It's a discussion without any real consequences (sort of), but not without meaning. Meaning is the soul of any community. It exists for a reason. Maybe the reason is simply that a group of people all work together or live in the same area. Not the best community, when you belong to it by chance. Better is to belong to it by choice, because it's what you really enjoy.

The soul of this community is that everyone enjoys ideas. Political, social, technological, just plain stupid... all kinds of ideas. We like to find them in the dirt and polish them off and show them to one another and say "See what I found! What do you think of it?" We are here to explore the meaning of things, not because we were dropped here by random chance, but because we like being here.

The non-consequential (in the way you mean) nature of it is part of its power. I am free to say whatever I think here, without any repercussion except that someone may think I'm a blithering idiot, and is free to tell me that. Thus is discussion born.

However, in another way, it does have consequences. Ideas are viral. By taking part in this community, I open myself to infection from all sorts of ideas for good or ill. I've never spent a good amount of time reading K5 and come away completely unaffected by it. Maybe I read something really intelligent, and it makes me think, and maybe even makes me change, a little, the way I live my life. Maybe I just read something really idiotic and I go away angry.

My point is, if you are willing to take part in this community, it does have value. If you find it meaningless and inconsequential the problem may not lie in it, but in you.

[ Parent ]
I agree with you too :-) (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by mami on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:49:46 PM EST

I've never spent a good amount of time reading K5 and come away completely unaffected by it.

But that's the problem. You ARE affected by the thought exchange, but they never actually have any real life consequences. That makes the thought exchange a waste of your energies.

Ah, I guess, I am wrong. Something is wrong, I just don't know what.:-)

[ Parent ]

But, how? (none / 0) (#24)
by MadDreamer on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 12:33:37 AM EST

How is it a waste of energy, exactly? I don't see it. Of course, I'm not going to try and argue that down as it was hardly an argument. The point could be enjoyably argued though, if you would like to take a stab at it.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps you feel powerless (none / 0) (#25)
by sebpaquet on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 06:16:20 AM EST

discussing and better understanding how all the bad things in the world happen, yet doing nothing about it? Is that why you think it's a waste of energy? I know I used to feel that way, until I found out that by investing myself in education I could perhaps improve things a little, at least in my immediate surroundings.

[ Parent ]
yes, powerless and tired (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by mami on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 09:24:37 PM EST

For those of you, who can't imagine how it feels to get old, here is the worst part of it. You actually can feel and watch how you loose your mental strength, you know you are loosing memory and it gets really on your nerves.

Even worse, in the beginning you don't realize it yourself, but everybody else around you does.

And one day it hits you and you say to yourself, darn, how come I can't remember this and that and get tired so quickly. And you start wanting to get back the strenght you had.

I think I am the oldest female person reading K5. How Awful.

[ Parent ]

Comparing yourself with who you used to be (none / 0) (#36)
by sebpaquet on Wed Jun 26, 2002 at 09:48:01 AM EST

to me seems to be as much a waste of time as comparing yourself with someone else. I think it's better to live in the present and to think of all the interesting things you can do right now. Cliché but true.

By the way I'm very happy that there are older people to interact with in this community. I believe it strenghtens it and I wish there were more. The way society is set up nowadays, pretty much everyone tends to interact in a peer-to-peer fashion with only people about their age. Relationships with other age brackets are either of the hierarchical/authoritarian/paternalistic or "I'm useful to you but you're useless to me" kind. This asymmetry and this contributes to society's fragmentation and lack of cohesion because we no longer know each other.
Seb's Open Research - Pointers and thoughts on the evolution of knowledge sharing and scholarly communication.
[ Parent ]

Communities (4.50 / 4) (#14)
by infraoctarine on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:37:09 AM EST

I guess it depends on what you mean when you say "community". If you define it to only include people you can borrow coffee from (or meet in real life), then of course something like an on-line community can not exist.

But there are less narrow interpretations of the word. It can be used to talk about a group of people with a common interest, like "the scientific community". Just because someone feel they belong to the scientific community doesn't mean they have regular, real-life contact with their peers; it is enough that the interest is shared and that there is some form of interaction.

Sure, people come and go, and even change names in on-line communities. It's a loosely knit group, hardly anyone would notice if I disappeared. It's not a stable thing, like your local community; but it is a group of people with common interests who regularly meet and interact. I call that a community, although it is a community of a very different kind than one where I meet people in real life.

[ Parent ]

I agree with you too (none / 0) (#22)
by mami on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:45:40 PM EST

but does the science gets any better? Why is there so little real positive effect with all those unbelievable easy interactions among scientists?

Am I just depressed?

[ Parent ]

You're not depressed. (none / 0) (#26)
by sebpaquet on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 07:24:06 AM EST

Scientists either investigate what sells well with funding providers, or what they personally want to do. Only in some cases do ethics inform their choice of what to aim for. As a result you get a lot of gimmicks but don't get a lot of science that successfully tackles the hard problems in this world. But these problems are hard; solving them usually involves changing how people think and act, and that's a difficult thing to do.

[ Parent ]
Science and communities (none / 0) (#28)
by infraoctarine on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 12:42:04 PM EST

Your write: but does the science gets any better?

I guess that depends. Many little things improve every day. We invent new medicines, an engine that pollutes less, find out more about the history of our universe. Science does a lot of things. Some people think those are great discoveries, others might find them meaningless.

Of course, these are also many problems science has not solved. People still die of illnesses, starve, or kill each other. Our worst problems cannot be solved by scientists alone - a scientist is just a regular person, not a deity that can magically fix things for the rest of us.

Elsewhere, you write: It's a discussion without any consequences or meaning

If you expect on-line communities to change the world, then I can see why you write this. If you lower your expectations a bit, however, you might find that they are not without meaning. It can be fun, it can give you some new ideas. Over the years, I've found many gems of information, interesting discussion, and dozens of tips for books to read here on K5. That's plenty enough for me.

[ Parent ]

Plenty enough for you, more than enough for me (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by mami on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 09:10:31 PM EST

May be I feel often negatively about my involvement with online sources and discussions, because I can read and learn too many different things too easily. It silently takes all my time and energy away and it leaves me unable to focus on one subject.

But I guess that's only the case for people who can afford to use their time as they wish, which I could for a while. My feeling is that if one is routinely into reading site like K5 or news groups, it makes your mind floating and spreading outlike oil on the water in the ocean,
borderless, without direction, without mixing, without doing anything productive.

That makes me depressed. Strangely enough, if I read a book and get disconnected from the network, it has the opposite effect. I feel more optimistic and hopeful, I focus and usually start DOING something, because what I read initiated some activities.

Whatever, I just need to figure out what it is that makes me depressed when I read online.

May be the answer is very simple. It's because I read THE WRONG STUFF and don't get away from it because something that gets on your nerves gets you hooked, if you can talk about it and tell all the people in the world how "nice" they are.


[ Parent ]

Goal-directed exploration (none / 0) (#37)
by sebpaquet on Wed Jun 26, 2002 at 10:15:00 AM EST

I think know how you feel. I often feel that way. Invariably I find out I'm letting information get pushed into me, which is not the same as seeking and pulling information. To do the latter you have to set a goal for yourself. Then everything you read, the choices of what you click, etc., are illuminated by this perspective. You're not just being curious, you're actively pursuing something. This is meaningful. You don't feel depressed.

The more your goal is clearly defined (discussions with other people can be helpful there), the better. To set a goal for yourself, go offline. Block the input from other people. Spend time alone, go out in the woods, find out what works for you. Seek truth. Find out and question your hidden assumptions. Take time to set up a coherent overarching vision that will guide you back into the world -- until you lose focus again and feel the need to revisit the woods.
Seb's Open Research - Pointers and thoughts on the evolution of knowledge sharing and scholarly communication.
[ Parent ]

The science becomes different... (none / 0) (#30)
by mcphee on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 01:52:57 PM EST

...but not necessarily better.

I know from my experience and that of friends, the internet and on-line communities do allow for different kinds of exchanges and different kinds of research. Several years ago two friends of mine in Germany ended up co-authoring a paper with a person in California whom they had never met and who contacted them through a group mailing list after having read some of their papers. They coded together, ran simulation experiments together, and then wrote a paper together, all without actually meeting. The first time they saw each other was when they met at the conference where the paper was being presented.

I've never had such an experience myself, but I live in a small, remote town In The Middle Of Nowhere in Minnesota, and on-line exchanges of many varieties are crucial to my research collaborations (which are mostly with Europeans). These are people I physically meet once or twice a year, which does strengthen the community in important ways, but the on-line connections are crucial in the long gaps in between.

[ Parent ]

co-authoring (none / 0) (#33)
by mami on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 08:49:45 PM EST

That is of course one of those real goodies.

I admit these are the true advantages for all subject areas where you have just a handful to a couple of hundreds scientists around the world.

I guess one is already so used to the fact that one CAN cooperate intensely from the middle of nowhere to somewhere else that one starts to forget about it.

[ Parent ]

Not meainingless (none / 0) (#20)
by the womble on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:44:36 PM EST

It's a discussion without any consequences or meaning,

It has little emotional meaning without personal contact.

However on-line discussion is written which leads to greater clarity. People read the whole of each others comments (or look silly if we do not). Written comments tend to be better thought out than most spoken discussions.

On-line communities seem to have a greater variety of views than most other forums for discussion. There is nothing less usueful than discussing things with a circle of friends who look at things from the same point of view as oneself. The impersonal element also makes people less afraid of expresing controversial points of view.

Contact with new ideas, opporunties to learn something, lots of thought provoking discussions - not my idea of meaningless.

[ Parent ]

I agree with all of it actually (none / 0) (#21)
by mami on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:42:43 PM EST

still I don't see any real meaning... I can't express what I mean, I guess.

May be I am disappointed that with all the possibilities to get information and discuss an issue from all aspects etc we still don't acutally DO anthing differently from times where we didn't have these options. Contrary it feels as if we act much worse than ever before.

Now we know of any tiny itsy bit of conflict and all the horrorific actions men are capable of exchanging with each other and we still can't solve and prevent those things any better than in the Middle Ages. Isn't that a disappointing realization after all the hopes people put in the "informatation" age?

[ Parent ]

Consequences and meaning (none / 0) (#29)
by mcphee on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 01:42:10 PM EST

There are a lot of different sources of consequence, and meeting face to face is just one of them. Some of the most interesting (to me) communities are brought together by the desire to build something and there the success or failure of the project often has significant consequences for the participants. The thing(s) being built could be software, or scientific research, or creative writing, or... The community can work together by sharing the burden of creation, or carefully and constructively critiquing the work of others. They may never meet in person, or may not do so until late in the process.

In many cases, of course, the "community" is pretty vacuous, the products non-existent or uninteresting, and the consequences trivial (at least to an outsider - the consequences may seem much more real those those on the inside). In some cases, though, the consequences are palpable even to an outside observer, with important and real implications and impact.

I leave it to others to decide where K5 fits on that spectrum :->.

[ Parent ]

pretty good (1.33 / 3) (#8)
by athagon on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:46:06 PM EST

+1; it's well-written and fairly interesting. It may have been better as an Op-Ed, but it's good enough to be +1 regardless. Nice work.

Almost (2.80 / 5) (#9)
by inerte on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 10:37:29 PM EST

This means that, increasingly, new culture --as a process, not as a product -- is being documented in real-time online by the people who make it.

Like anything else before.

Think of the number of journalists it would take to follow up on all those little-known participants!


Think about anything else. You only need that many journalists if you want to know what everyone thinks about something. Millions of people lived the Industrial Revolution and yet, what do we know about it? The elite vision.

I think your article could be better if you didn't focus to analyze the outside, if you said more about what's happening on the inside of the cultural change. You've tried to analyze the macro scene of online communities, while they are very small. Millions of pageviews are nothing. K5 has something like 6 million of it monthly, yet only 976 stories and diaries were published last month.

That means it's not about what you see only once, things that you are just picking, lurking around. People make a lot of choices during their lifetime. To browse a lot of different pages is one of them.

When I talk to my family or friends, most of the time is about the same things I discuss online. That's why I am a programmer, and not a preacher that operates hearts while signing country music and thinking about a space shuttle design.

Online, we can see more things, that's for sure. Different points of view are one click away. But we always come back to where we feel comfortable. Either because we were accepted or because we believe we can be.

In short, one bird doesn't make summer.

Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

Some comments on the intro (4.40 / 5) (#16)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:30:57 AM EST

Online communities afford individuals the freedom to move across cultures as they see fit.

Not as much as it sounds like - one must read and write the language and have access. But clearly, there's a wide selection of communities to choose from. Many of them are far too small to be considered a culture; many are barely more than vanity boards.

This makes them emerge as bastions of intellectual life where culture-makers increasingly like to hang out.

I suppose K5 makes a reasonably good attempt at this, although I think there are more culture commentators than makers here. However, one look at Yahoo's comment boards will make you think twice about sites on the internet being "bastions of intellectual life". The depressing truth is there are a lot of illiterate and stupid people posting to Usenet and web boards.

There are a few culture makers who spend time online. Some of them do so under their own name, others do so under net names as they would be too swamped with comments if they didn't. I strongly suspect that most major or minor culture makers are too busy creating culture to spend time online discussing it. They have each other's emails and phone numbers and can get together without a zillion fans barging in. Why would they bother with a place like this?

This evolution means that over time, online communities will become a vital part of cultural development.

I think it's a vital part of underground culture development right now. But the mainstream clearly isn't that influenced by it. The major change may be that the mainstream becomes narrower with less people participating (consuming) in it, while the underground gets broader and more populous. But I don't see the top 100 novelists of the day ever discussing things online like this in public, for example. I don't see really huge movements being propelled by internet participation alone. What I do see is a myriad of modestly sized communities where information that isn't traded in the mainstream media gets talked about. The major effect of this is that it's going to be a lot harder for the powers that be to bury things they don't want people to know - it already is. It's also going to be a lot harder to know what the public thinks because so much of the public is going to be speaking their minds in contradictory and obscure ways that none the less are going to have some effect on the culture as the whole.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Insightful criticism - thanks (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by sebpaquet on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 11:05:30 AM EST

Not as much as it sounds like - one must read and write the language and have access.

You're right about this. Access to information only is not sufficient. This is why online communities need to make themselves easy to approach (think introductions, tutorials) if they are to have any hope of attracting people. The problem with many online communities is that they are closed upon themselves and thus somewhat impenetrable.

I strongly suspect that most major or   minor culture makers are too busy creating culture to spend time online discussing it. They have each other's emails   and phone numbers and can get together without a zillion fans barging in. Why would they bother with a place like   this?

I agree with you as far as well-known culture makers are concerned. But minor ones don't have the advantage of having their work widely talked about. This means they won't have that many contacts with people who are into exactly what they are doing. If you're the only Irish fiddler in your town, you'll need to reach out to share your ideas, and the Internet is a good way to do so.

The major change may be that the mainstream becomes narrower with less people participating (consuming) in   it, while the underground gets broader and more populous.

That's what I'm counting on. When most people have a personally customized cultural experience, instead of swallowing mass-marketed content, one will be able to say that online communities are a central part of culture. I expect this to happen, but it'll probably take many years.

[ Parent ]

Mythical "Culture Makers" (5.00 / 3) (#19)
by Inhibit on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 01:55:52 PM EST

I strongly suspect that most major or minor culture makers are too busy creating culture to spend time online discussing it. They have each other's emails and phone numbers and can get together without a zillion fans barging in.

I'm not so sure this is true. Really, "culture making" appears to be done by a clique of friends with one person generally getting the accolades, and all the supporting people hanging around and making it stick. There's no "leaders" that simply sit around creating culture, much less ones that hang around with each other sipping lattes all day. There are, however, people that take others ideas and capatalize on them, in an attempt to appear as if they were the creator. TV anyone?

For instance, Rusty doesn't sit around and "Make Culture". Some of the people that hang out at Kuro5hin may, but as a bi-product of what they happen to be doing and not an intended result. People that run large well organized cultural centers get (and deserve!) some of the credit for creating "culture", but they don't have a hand in the making, just the facillitating. Hopefully that all makes some sense and conveys a coherent idea :).
-- Inhibit, PCBurn Linux hardware/software reviewer
[ Parent ]

Online Communities and the Future of Culture | 37 comments (30 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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