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It should not be surprising, then, that millions of people throughout the world turn to the Internet to re-create and re-establish the third sphere of conviviality. First, I am so thankful that my wonderful son ____ will continue to shine. Second, when I thank our surgeons, I told them that it will be good to get back to normal. You will be more appreciative for what you have, more empathetic to others, and put more value on how much the support of others means. You will be much, much better for having had this experience. Another example of intimacy which can occur within postings to a newsgroup can be found in message posted by Julies husband to the Acoustic Neuroma group to weeks prior to surgery.
Although they transcend the physical and spatial boundaries that have traditionally defined a community, cyber-communities are often a primary form of social interaction for the growing number of individuals who often spend hours each day surfing the net.
A growing number of scholars have begun to explore the impact of newsgroups, mailing lists, community networks, and electronic bulletin boards on the participants and the communities they serve.
Jones (1995), like Rheingold and Oldenburg, shares the view that newsgroups, bulletin boards, and other forms of computer-mediated communication have sprung out of the need to re-create this sense of community, that participants join and become involved with the express purpose of reestablishing a social bonds. Ive read the ANA postings since our surgery with interest. The tone of the posting is much like a family letter--its assumes that readers sense a certain degree of intimacy and a willingness to share very personal information.
Critical to the rhetoric surrounding the information highway is the promise of a renewed sense of community and, in many instances, new types and formations of community. Our family has found the responses weve received to be most supportive, and we gathered much valuable information that helped us make the decisions on the surgery, the doctors, the hospital, and insurance coverage. Weve been out here lurking for a while waiting for our surgery date. So, now the time is counting down and we are starting to realize the implications of what may happen.
The emergence of online communication modalities also has fostered a new dialogue among scholars as to whether these cyber subcultures are worthy of our attention or whether they are simply ephemeral, imagined communities, too fleeting, too superficial, and too virtual to warrant serious exploration.
Calhoun (1991) argues that the modern condition is one of indirect social relationships in which connectivity with others is more imagined, or parasocial, than real. The medias ability to broaden the range of our experiences creates the illusion of greater contact or membership in large-scale social organizations.
Wolfe (1996) points out that researcher/social critic historically has placed himself or herself as a participant observer, physically and intellectually immersed in the community to be studied and able to interact face-to-face with its members. In his seminal work, Street Corner Society, Whyte (1955) lived, worked, and even got married in the Italian slum of a U. The answer to these questions is the focus of this essay.
Robert and Helen Lynd (1929, 1939) went to Muncie, Indiana, to study a typical American community in their pioneering Middletown USA project in the 1920s. Others have gone into mental institutions, tattoo parlors, funeral homes, and inner-city neighborhoods in large U. Computer-mediated communication is changing the way we define and view the concept of a community. The change, however, is not without some resistance.
In the weeks prior to the surgery, daily e-mail created a strong bond between Julie and her new friends.
Following the surgery, Julies husband chronicled the ups and downs of her recovery by posting daily updates to the group.