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The developments witnessed in information and communication technology have seen the emergence of new communities commonly known as virtual or online communities. The virtual world which exists in a computer-based simulated environment usually allows exchange of information…
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Download file to see previous pages world, virtual communities are known to begin their life cycles as visitors or lurkers who by and by break existing communication barriers to become participating novices. Community visitors basically do not actively contribute for reasons among which include: seeking to learn about the community first, inability to use existing computer software, and dislike of observed group dynamics. Some simply relax as they receive all the information they need without having to actively participate while others may also nature the thought that by not contributing, they are being helpful to the group.
After the novice participates for a sustained period he/she becomes a regular member then later graduates to become a leader. Later, leaders become elders and may leave the community due to new outlooks, new positions or new relationships.
Interaction of members of the virtual community is primarily accomplished via communication media which include email, telephone, newsletters, and instant messages as well as online social networks and not face to face for professional, educational, social, and other purposes. Virtual communication also supplements the more traditional forms of communication between persons who primarily know one another in real life.
The proliferation of social internet-based networks has undoubtedly changed the socio-technical environment in diverse ways. Virtual communities can share ideas, jokes, play games, share professional information, advertise products and even seal business deals.
Professionals such as journalists, environmentalists, human rights activists, medical practitioners, scientists and researchers in all fields have for example found online communication convenient and indispensable for the successful performance of their activities.
Rheingold notes that because sometimes in cyberspace people are not visible to one another, factors such as age, gender, and physical appearance do not really affect or come to play in the form or manner ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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