Online Community - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Heidi Campbell’s Notion of Religious Online Community Community refers a large social unit that shares common practices and values. Heidi Campbell describes it as the extent to which people meet and interact, be it physically or remotely (Campbell, 2010)…
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Download file to see previous pages This means that people could be living in the same geographical area but since they do not share the same values, they are not deemed as community. The conventional community is that which lives together physically and shares their values and practices within a locality. The contemporary community does not have to be living in the same locality since they could practice their values on a remote platform, which is online. Campbell describes the contemporary community, or community online, as that social unit that interacts online aided by the use of the internet (Campbell, 2010). He traces the emergence of the community online back to the early 1970s when the email first emerged. Emails were first powered by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, commonly abbreviated as ARPANET, which was also the first operational packet switching network in the world (Brasher 25). The online space was, at first, purely a research space and not for social interactions’ use. Soon ARPANET created the first electronic discussion group establishing a moderated space to oversee various aspects of network business and research. Researchers within these messaging groups began forming unofficial groups such as SF-Lovers, created by some researchers to discuss science fiction. This and other early groups pioneered the social community online. Several special interest groups started emerging thereafter and this liberalization saw the birth of the “net.religion” debating group where religious opinions were aired. Further debates saw the narrowing down of this group to specific religious online forums, the first of which to emerge being “net.religion.jewish”. Newer advents of technology saw the creation of both newer and more precise forums and also better and faster ways of furthering these religious debates such as bulletin board systems (BBS), multi-user object oriented (MOO), multi-user dimension (MUD), and internet relay chat (IRC) rooms. Through standardization, regulation and setting of “rules of engagement” within the various forums, these computer-supported groups automatically qualified as communities, or more precisely, virtual communities. Campbell concurs with a definition, of virtual community, by Rheingold, that virtual communities are social aggregations emerging from internet forums when enough people carry on discussions with human feeling to form networks of personal relationships online. The evolution of Christian community online did not stop at the web groups and discussion forums for specific religions, in the mid – 1990s, cyber-churches and cyber-temples emerged as websites exclusively providing online worship services to their respective target groups (Stower, 2001). The argument behind this unique move was that the internet provides a forum for revolution, similar to the protestant wave, to reform and reinvent the ways in which faith and values are practiced and people communicate with each other and with God. The understanding was that people do not have to physically meet to practice their religious values and that computer networks provide social networks within which people can meet face-to-face, but virtually, within the computer network (Dawson 15). The study of religious community online critically began in early 1990s when scholars started paying attention more attention to issues of technology being used to congregate online, the types of discussions and practices. Two researchers, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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