Communicating virtually through virtual communities
Posted by Chelsea Dowling
As I think about the idea of communities, I think about growing up and the vast array of community-based arenas I found myself to be a part of including, 4-H, FFA, my local church affiliate, softball team, basketball team, and so on. Each of these organizations provided me with a different community and each had different, unified goals. But more importantly, these communities allowed me to network, coordinate, cooperate, and collaborate. What is important to highlight is: these four qualities you can find through in-person community based situations are the same qualities that drive virtual communities, in which we are all interconnected through like-minded goals and commonalities.
Graphic courtesy of newmediastudies401
In my previous blog entries, I have at times referred to the work I am currently doing in my organization in order to develop an internal employee blog for my Information Technology (IT) department. This blog, in and of itself, is a form of a virtual community designed to bring like-minded professionals together in order to acquire information. And at the crux of virtual community development is this idea of collaboration, which, as Rheingold puts it, “has transformed not only the way people use the Internet but also how information is found” (2014).
The idea for developing this internal blog as a way to improve staff communication with each other, initially spawned from the excessive time it took to develop an employee newsletter (which I was the only one writing). However, through the development of a blog, I would (in theory) have the opportunity to invite blog authors and co-contributors on board to create content. As a lone communications role in my department, I can tell you it is difficult to build a community of trust and engagement if you’re the only one contributing.
One of the most interesting things that Rheingold discusses in his book Net Smart, How To Thrive Online, is this idea of “collective intelligence” that can be pertinent in order to make an online community successful. The tips he provided are as following (Rheingold, 2014):
- In order to build trust in an online network, foster conversations
- Ensure there is a diversity of participants within your community
- Provide continual options to for all community members to collaborate
- Offer this community as a place to share knowledge and make it easy for people to share
As we think about designing and establishing new online communities, understanding these types of drivers for a virtual community can help us to shape the community group and to foster more of those four qualities I previously referred to: Networking, Coordination, Cooperation, and Collaboration (Rheingold, 2014).
Have you ever participated in online/virtual communities? As a participant what are some of the expectations you have in these communities?
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.