Virtual Communities

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What are Virtual Communities?

Virtual communities are called certain groups of subjects (individuals, collectives and institutions ) who concentrate their efforts on the ordering of data processed on the Internet, based on online services. In other words, they are groups of individuals and institutions organized cybernetically around a specific margin of interests, whose interactions, links, relationships and communications occur through the Network.

Virtual communities can be very diverse and specific, involving people from geographically and culturally distant origins, organized around a common theme of their passion or interest, and a virtual "space" that can be determined by a Web page or an On service. -line.

This term was used for the first time in 1994, in the book The Virtual Community of Howard Rheinhold. However, the first virtual communities already existed since the 70s of the 20th century, particularly around the exchange of specialized data in military, scientific and academic fields, thanks to the communication mechanisms of the then rudimentary Internet, such as newsletter systems ( BBS) or bulletin boards.

Currently virtual communities are a massive phenomenon online and closely linked to the explosion of social networks, capable of interconnecting these types of virtual organizations or creating their own, around massive communication axes and different times and modes of interaction.

What are virtual communities for?

In principle, virtual communities have the purpose of exchanging specialized information around a topic or an axis of topics that can be anyone, from science and technology, literary creation, sports or film fanaticism, etc. Those who collaborate in them are both consumers, producers and / or replicators of the information available in this regard.

On the other hand, they are a useful tool for corporate environments, allowing an internal organization of communications, as well as a closer and direct contact with consumers, organizing a community around the product or brand ( branding or loyalty). It also operates as a space for socialization and exchange of diverse nature between people of all kinds, within the framework of social networks and culture 2.0.

Characteristics of virtual communities

Virtual communities are usually characterized as follows:

- Involve individuals of different origins, who may come from distant geographies, diverse social groups, etc.
- organize their members around a specific topic or a specific interest, be it the debate around certain topics, joint literary creation, video games, the opportunity for romantic dates, etc.
- Don't have a physical anchor in the real world, but in a digitally available service or website.
- Imprint a sense of belonging in its members as strong as traditional communities, whether or not it lends itself to physical and face-to-face exchange.

Examples of virtual communities

Some examples of virtual communities today are:

- Twitter: A social network that allows you to set up a notice board to read, share and comment on news with other users from anywhere in the world.
- Microsoft Commnity: A virtual forum that brings together users of Microsoft products and allows them to interact with the company, to obtain solutions to technical problems, recommendations, express their opinion, etc.
- Wikipedia: Beyond the information open for consumption throughout the Internet, there is a very diverse community of collaborators, anonymous or not, who discuss articles, correct them, create new ones, translate and keep the collective encyclopedic project updated.
- Tinder: It's a social network that operates as a community of romantic interests, allowing its users to meet new people and get in touch with them to manage appointments and establish romantic relationships. It has a version intended solely for the gay public, known as Grindr.
- eMule: Software Connection peer-to-peer (P2P) that allows users to engage virtual exchanges of data and information from their own computers, and create joint databases to share information that is important to them personally.
- Letralia: This website was once a mass mail system ( mailing list ) and is currently an important information community on literary matters, in which texts are published, calls are broadcast, contests are announced, etc.

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