Firstly, let’s look at the definition of communities of interest, in the article understanding and analyzing activity and learning in virtual communities, Henri and Pudelko describe communities of interest as “a gathering of people assembled around a topic of common interest. Its members take part … to exchange information, to obtain answer to personal question or problems, to improve their understanding of a subject, to share common passion”.
45 years ago Licklider and Taylor illustrated two examples communities of interest held through the project meeting and face to face through computer where participants must prepare the documents that they need to discuss from the purposes until the status of the model. Therefore it limits the access for more information, besides, it was held in the room with minimum capacity of people. Each participant would come up with various ideas which led to decision making of changing in structure of one model, in that communities of interest, distance was still a matter as those who participated need to meet in order to discuss their interest.
However, Licklider and Taylor were really quite prescient “what will online interactive communities be like? In most fields they will consist of geographically separated members, sometimes grouped in small cluster and sometimes working individually. They will be communities not of common location but of common interest.”
They articulate in this paper one of the most significant aspects of digital networked media “the increasing significance of the jointly constructive, the mutually reinforcing aspect of communication … When minds interact, and new ideas emerge.”
The advanced of technology and software make it easier for “Alternative Technology association” community to share and discuss many issues around the environment. ATA is a non-profit community group that aims to use and promote environmentally friendly technology. With 12 branches and over 5,000 members around Australia and New Zealand, it can be said that they broke the distance matter by each participant can sit behind the computer to participate in the discussion. ATA provides practical information and expertise, based on their members’ hands-on experience which drives its members to engage more in every topic.
In the forum section, it could be seen in the online discussion page is organized and functions very well. As the result, it makes easier for member to post and engaged in the interactive communication with different theme. Guests can only visit and read the page. Membership is determined by joining up with standard $50 per year and there are different types of membership with different cost. Members construct their identity through their topic that they are interested in. Additionally, members do not prepare any files to participate in the online forum; they can share it from other website by using hyperlink and multimedia. Conversely, other members can benefits those hyperlinks to access deep and rich information.
ATA has forum rule where members cannot say things in an aggressive or hurtful manner can result in post being censored by moderators. Privacy and Copyright such as refrain from posting private emails, personal letters/mail, messages from other forums etc is considered violating copyright laws.
Overall, hyperlinks, multimedia, file sharing etc, can all be seen to spring from this idea of a dynamic medium, specifically developed to enhance and expand the possibilities for creative, interactive communication which are completely different with communities of interest in 1968.
Let’s watch the measurement engaging communities of interest