Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 11

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

Assignment 1
Trends and Issues in Virtual Communities
Michele Lockleair
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

Assignment 1 Trends and Issues in Virtual Communities


I.

Introduction
A. What is a Virtual Community
A virtual community has been defined as an aggregation of individuals or
business partners who interact around a shared interest, where the
interaction is at least partially supported and/or mediated by technology and
guided by some protocols or norms (Porter, 2004). This takes many forms.
It could a chat room, a multi-player online game, or an online classroom. It is
a place where people can interact with other people. They can talk, debate,
play, and learn.
Some virtual communities are real time or synchronous, such as multi-player
games, and chat rooms. Others are asynchronous, such as discussion boards
or support forums, or they can be a mixture of the two. Another aspect of
virtual communities is the number of people involved. It can be as few as one
person up to an unlimited amount of people interacting in the same
community. The members of the group can be very active participants or
they can be passive watchers.
The definition of virtual communities has been summed up in the Five Ps of
Virtual Communities (Porter, 2004). These are the Purpose, Place, Platform,
Population, and Profit Model. Each attribute helps to define the type of
virtual community created and focus the creator on the content to provide.

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

These attributes can evolve as the community grows and changes over time
as well.
B. Your Experiences with Virtual Communities
I have been involved in virtual communities since I purchased my first
computer in 1995 without ever knowing it. One of my first activities online
was to read discussion boards on topics that I was interested in such as
Parenting, Sewing, Cooking, and Baking and share my experiences with
others that frequented the same boards and learn from their experiences. As
the internet and technology changed, so have the type of virtual
communities. It is now possible to take college courses online and interact
with the professor and other students via video and audio conferencing.
Other virtual communities that I have experienced are Facebook, Pinterest,
Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and Goodreads. I enjoy using Facebook to keep in
touch with family and friends over long and short distances. I am reminded
of birthdays, anniversaries, and special events. I am able to see pictures of
family and enjoy experiences with loved ones without having to be with
them. Twitter allows me to keep up to date on the latest headlines and get
more information on my schedule on what matter to me. With Pinterest, I
keep an array of ideas for crafts, recipes, decorating, and vacation spots.
I have also been able to further my education. I was able to take classes
online while finishing my Bachelors degree and now I am getting my
Masters degree completely online. I love the ability to go to a school that is

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

too far away to attend physically and still be able to have a face-to-face
lecture with my professor and classmates.
C. To What Extent are They Used by You, Family, and Friends?
I use virtual communities every day. I check my Facebook and Twitter
accounts periodically throughout the day. I pull up Pinterest on my phone to
get a recipe I saved. I do class assignments on Discussion boards and attend
weekly classes. My family uses virtual communities in much of the same way
as I do. Some are on more frequently, others not as often. I am able to keep
up to date on the happenings of friends and their families from far away.
Facebook has replaced the telephone and letter for me and many of my
family and friends. It is an instant way to keep in touch on the go and allows
responses in a persons own time unlike the telephone, which requires both
participants to be available at the same time. My son has been able to keep in
touch, play video games, and talk face to face with his best friend who has
been living in Japan for the past three years. Virtual communities allow our
lives to go faster and to keep us connected on the go.
II.

Trends & Issues


A. Describe the history of social media and the formation of virtual communities
Social media essentially got its start in 1969 when two computers one at
Stanford University and one at UCLA, so researchers could share information.
Known as ARPAnet, it eventually grew to multiple computers at several
universities and government sites. As it grew, new protocols were developed

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

and it became known as the Worldwide Internet. In the 1980s Bulletin


Board Systems (BBS) were available over dial-up modem connections
(Digital Trends Staff, 2014). By the early 1990s the internet was available to
a wider audience through CompuServe, and AOL (Digital Trends Staff, 2014).
AOL allowed users to create profiles and connect to others with similar
interests. What is considered to be the first modern social networking sites,
Classmates.com, appeared in 1995 (Digital Trends Staff, 2014).
Classmates.com had great success and is still in operation, unlike other social
networking sites that have come and gone over the years. The most
successful has been Facebook, which is a social networking phenomenon.
Facebook allows users to not just connect with each other, but share their
lives and play games with and against their friends, as well as connect to
businesses and events. The advancement of mobile technology has given rise
to many social networking sites that can be accessed on the go.
While sites like Facebook and Twitter can be accessed on the go with mobile
apps in addition to the desktop versions, many social networking sites have
come out with mobile only forums such as FourSquare, an augmented reality
app to bring locations to life. Even though social networking has come a long
way since 1969, there is still much that can be done especially in the area of
this new realm of augmented and virtual reality. There is new history being
made in these areas.
B. Discuss the Pros and Cons of Social Media and Virtual Communities

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

There are both good and bad about all things and social media is no different.
Social media allows connections around the world. Long lost classmates can
catch up and family can stay in touch around the world. News can be shared
and discussed in an instant. People in remote locations or unable to commute
for any reason are able to attend college or socialize with other people
around the world. Places that would be unreachable are reachable for
education as well pleasure. Whole classes can travel around the world and
make friends with children in other countries through social media forums.
Social media has many good attributes, but it also has its down side.
Social media sites are known to sell their users personal information and
while it is not illegal, many do not think it is responsible. Hackers can use the
information that users give out to break into private accounts. Children,
teens, or just about anyone is vulnerable to stalkers out to do no good. Many
young girls have been lured out to meet a person they think is another teen
they have taken a liking to online only to be kidnapped or harmed by an
older person that lied about who they were. Cyber bullying and sexting have
also become problems encountered on social media, but even considering the
flaws of social media, it is still a wonderful tool to connect to the world.
C. Describe Examples of Libraries Using Virtual Communities Successfully
(especially focus on your area of librarianship, if applicable)
The four main reasons that libraries use social media is for promotion,
collection management, outreach, and teaching and learning (Taylor &

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

Francis Group, 2014, p. 2). To meet this need libraries use a variety of social
media outlets. Facebook is the most popular followed by Twitter. Depending
on the size of the library seems to depend on how many and the type of
posts. Some libraries such as the New York Public Library (NYPL) have 216k
followers on Facebook while others such the Cumberland County Public
Library and Information Center (CCPL&IC) only has 3k followers. The NYPL
posts three to five times a day compared to CCPL&IC, which only posts once
every day or two. Both post about events happening within the library
system and about authors. CCPL&IC also does a weekly history post about
the history markers around the town and give background information on
the reasons for the marker.
D. Discuss Future Trends of Virtual Communities and Potential Use for Libraries
The growth of social media use in libraries is expected to increase in the
coming years. Even though it is very easy to set up social media accounts,
the more difficult part is keeping it up to date with engaging content, using it
to provide value to users and thinking about how it intersects with other
services (Benn & McLoughlin, 2013, p. 9). In the future libraries will need to
create plans, goals, and objectives of how they want to use social media and
how they are going to track its use for statistical purposes. As this growth
occurs, libraries are going to need dedicated staff to oversee this rise in use.
III.

Conclusion & Recommendations

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

A. How Do You Think Libraries Should Use Social Media and Virtual
Communities?
Libraries should use social media and virtual communities to both take the
library service to users in their preferred spaces and bring users to the
building (Taylor & Francis Group, 2014, pp. 3, 9). Social media is also a
wonderful tool to build a sense of community between the library and its
users (Taylor & Francis Group, 2014, p. 3). Social media is a great place for
news and can help to keep librarians updated on industry news and
initiatives (Taylor & Francis Group, 2014, p. 3). Librarians can network
among themselves and share social media initiatives that work and do not
work.
Libraries need to make positions for social media, so that it is a main
component instead of an afterthought. Social media users expect quick
responses or they will soon stop using the page and if there is not someone
committed to working only on social media it will not be successful. Even
with a dedicated staff for social media, all staff should be encouraged to
engage patrons online to give a personable feel to the site instead of that of
an institution or business. Of course, guidelines and procedures need to be
set so staff know what is acceptable and how they should engage with
patrons. Analytics need to be used to gauge usage and patterns, as well as to
be able to quantify goals and objectives that should be created just as any
other needs of the library on a yearly basis.

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

B. To What Extent Do You Feel Comfortable Leading Social Media and Virtual
Communities for Your Library?
I am very familiar with social media and continue to learn new things all the
time. I feel very comfortable that I could be an asset to any library that I am
employed by to work on their social media campaigns and increase traffic on
their social media sites. Since this is expected to be a media increasingly used
by libraries and patrons in the coming years, I feel it is important to have
dedicated staff for this area. A social media coordinator or associate is
needed to give the personal attention and commitment needed to have
successful social media campaigns.
Social media is such an important media in our society that I feel it is
important to keep up with current trends and new social networking sites
that are created and to learn to utilize them effectively. I am always looking
for webinars and learning opportunities to increase my knowledge in this
area.
C. Summarize Current and Future Trends in Use of Social Media and Virtual
Communities in Libraries
Based on the survey conducted by the Taylor and Francis Group, over 70% of
libraries use some form of social media (Taylor & Francis Group, 2014, p. 2).
It is hard to know what turn social media will take next, but the priority for
most of the librarians is to remain experimental and flexible (Taylor &
Francis Group, 2014, p. 3). Not only are libraries and librarians using social

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

10

media to promote the library, they also need to act as guides for patrons to
help them find their way through the maze of social media sites. One thing is
sure, no matter how social media is used, it is here to stay and is an
important tool for libraries of the future.

Assignment 1-Virtual Communities

11

References
Benn, J., & McLoughlin, D. (2013). Facing our future: social media takeover, coexistence or
resistance? The integration of social media and reference services. Singapore: IFLA WLIC.
Digital Trends Staff. (2014, August 5). History of Social Networking. Retrieved from Digital
Trends: http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-history-of-social-networking/
Porter, C. E. (2004, November). A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi-Disciplinary
Foundation for Future Research. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(1),
00. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2004.tb00228.x
Taylor & Francis Group. (2014). Use of social media by the library: current practices and future
opportunities.