According to Ed Technology Glossary of Terms, online community is defined as a meeting place on the Internet for people who share common interests and needs. Online communities can be open to all or be limited to membership only and may or may not be moderated.
Being a fan of Korean Pop music, I myself is a member of several forums. Being part of these forums, I can get the latest information of the artist and communicate with people who have the same interest as me. Besides forums, the more popular online community would be Habbo Hotel and Second Life.
Second Life is a free 3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat. Second Life allows you to create a virtual version of you, and it allows you to explore the place, meet people, go shopping and settle down by buying virtual land and build dream house. Basically at Second Life, it allows one to live a life with no boundaries. Everything is achievable with the power of imagination.
Several people use Second Life for fun, to interact with other people. Others make a living by using Second Life. For example, Jennifer Grinnell is a furniture delivery dispatcher in real life but in Second Life, she is a fashion designer owning a shop called Mischief. Her shop creates digital clothes and skins, both allowing Second Life users to customise their avatars. A month after setting up the shop, she realises she was earning more money than her real job. Three months later, she finds out that her income online is sufficient enough to allow her to quit her day job. More and more people are using Second Life as the main source of income. (Read more here)
I think it is cool that people can make a living using Second Life, especially if the person is enjoying the job. Second Life also allows people to find people who share similar interests with groups set up. For instance in the US Presidential Election in 2008, supporters of Barack Obama could come together to attend rallies without leaving the comfort of their house.
Another popular online community would be Habbo Hotel. Similar to Second Life, Habbo allows interaction between people. However the average age users for Habbo is 15 years old whereas for Second Life, users have to be 18 years old and above. However a more secure version of second life is made available for teens between the age of 13-17, called Teen Second Life. With online community, people from all over the world can communicate with each other and make new friends. People with similar interest can meet virtually to discuss content they are passionate about. Whatever the technology made available, there are bound to be advantages and disadvantages present.
Posted by Crispin Butteriss – http://www.onlinecommunityconsultation.com/2008/11/advantages-disadvantages-of-online.html
|Flexibility: accessible 24×7, any place as long as you have an internet connection||Text-based: Predominantly relies on inputting text which can be challenging for those who don’t like to write or have poor keyboard skills, but with the advance of broadband connectivity and voice and video conference technology — this will be less of an issue.|
|Levelling: reserved people who usually don’t speak up can say as much as they like while “loud” people are just another voice and can’t interrupt||No physical cues: without facial expressions and gestures or the ability to retract immediately there’s a big risk of misunderstanding|
|Documented: unlike verbal conversation, online discussion is lasting and can be revisited||Information overload: a large volume of messages can be overwhelming and hard to follow, even stress-inducing|
|Encourages reflection: participants don’t have to contribute until they’ve thought about the issue and feel ready||Threads: logical sequence of discussion is often broken by users not sticking to the topic (thread)|
|Relevance: provides a place for real life examples and experience to be exchanged||Time lag: even if you log on daily, 24 hours can seem like a long time if you’re waiting for a reply; and then the discussion could have moved on and left you behind|
|Choice: a quick question or comment, or a long reflective account are equally possible||Inefficient: it takes longer than verbal conversation and so it’s hard to reply to all the points in a message, easily leaving questions unanswered|
|Community: over time can develop into a supportive, stimulating community which participants come to regard as the high point of their course||Isolation: some learners prefer to learn on their own and don’t participate in the discussions|
|Limitless: you can never predict where the discussion will go; the unexpected often results in increased incidental learning||Directionless: participants used to having a teacher or instructor telling them what to do can find it a leaderless environment (and that’s where tutors come in|
Ultimately, I believe in the advantages online community have to offer rather than the disadvantages. What about you? :)