The Virtual is Real
Just took an online survey for this conference on Virtual Communities. What struck me was the assumption that virtual communities are supplementary to non-virtual communities.
Perhaps this is the old bbs/usenet model, where people gather online to explore new identities; the 20th century equivalent of leaving the small town for New York or Chicago.
But my experience these days is different.
I work with a team that’s spread around the US, working with customers spread around the world. We meet a few times a year. EFF-Austin people communicate daily by email, and interact in person a few times a month. I belong to a book club that meets monthly, and plans using email and wiki.
There is no such thing as a “virtual community.” There are only real communities that meet more or less frequently in person.