A Community for Everyone

A Community for Everyone

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A Community for Everyone


The Net is not one thing. Its like asking: Are women comfortable in bars? Thatss a silly question. Which woman? Which bar?(171). Amy Bruckman, founder of MediaMoo, a virtual community using text, compares Internet communities with bars. She talks about how different people are comfortable in different bars just as certain people are interested in certain online communities. Just because one person does not like one bar does not mean that the bar should be shut down. That person should simply not go to that particular bar. He or she should find another bar. In Finding Ones Own in Cyberspace, Amy Bruckman proves that the Internet does offer or can possibly offer an online community that can fit anyones needs. Diversity is the internets greatest strength. Communities can be as exclusive online as they are in real life. Anyone can have an effect on his or her community, whether by starting a community up or just by having an input. Anyone can find a community online. To start off, the internets greatest asset is its diversity. A person can find just about anything he or she wants on the Net, including an accepting community. The internet is unbelievably vast and diverse. It may take a little time but Bruckman argues, If you keep an open mind, however, you may come across something good(172). As will be gone into later, people need to stop focusing on the negatives and concentrate on the positive aspects and possibilities in order to appreciate what the internet has to offer. Now, finding a particular Website should be becoming simpler than ever. With new online architecture, it is becoming more and more easy to find these sites: Depending on choice of background color and texture, type styles, and special fade-in effects, for instance, a Web page can feel playful or gloomy, futuristic or old-fashioned, serious or fun, grown-up or child-centered(178). Online communities are making it simple to identify with them. In some cases, a person would not even have to read the text in order to know if he or she has found the community he or she is looking for. He or she would just need to look at background or images. For instance, if someone were looking for information on soccer, the website would show a picture of a soccer ball and the person would immediately know that the website is soccer related.

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Next, people who do not necessarily agree with what they see on the Net, need to understand that this diversity is what makes the Internet so great. Bruckman agrees, Im glad there are places on the Net where Im not comfortable. The world would be a boring place if it invariably suited any one persons taste(178). If a certain website is bothersome, stay away from it. The Internet cannot fit everyones exact perception of what it should be. The best that can be done is to supply as much information and opportunities as possible, and then to let the people decide for themselves what to access. There are plenty of communities for everyone, but just like real life, there are restrictions. For example, there are communities that are interested in particular topics such as sports, politics, history, fashion many more. However, in order to be accepted, a person may or may not need to be knowledgeable on the topic. On a deeper level, online communities can be just as exclusive as a club or group in real life. Although the Internet has a place for everyone, individual communities in cyberspace do not always have to offer an open-door-policy. Communities are brought together for a reason, Achieving that purpose often requires that there be some way to determine who can join the community(174). This exclusionary process can be both beneficial and vital to the groups effectiveness. A community can decide who will be most effective for its purpose. Furthermore, once a member of a community, that person will not necessarily retain the right of free speech: Even if a community decides to admit all comers, it does not have to let all contributors say anything they want(174). Going back to the internets diversity, different communities have different rules and regulations.

These restrictions are often necessary in order to form an effective community. Some electronic neighborhoods are completely unrestricted, and others are closely monitored. In a case of a restricted community, the rules may be warranted, People with radically differing views may wander in innocently, or barge in deliberatelydisrupting the conversation through ignorance or malice(176). For instance, if a group is having a serious discussion on abortion and one member continuously calls out random thoughts, the conversation with in the group is not going to get anywhere. Exclusionary practices help reduce this type of thing from happening and overall benefit the community and its members. With all of these varying degrees of exclusionary practices, the diversity of online communities is even more widespread. People who want a more serious community will join one with more rules and for people who want a more open, relaxed environment, they can join a community that has fewer or no rules. After all of these choices, if a person can still not find somewhere to fit in, there is still one more option. In the rare likelihood that a person is unable to find a suitable community, he or she can always start one. Primarily, the founder has a huge, but not absolute impact on what sort of community is formed. The designer is allowed to decide what the initial primary focus should be and who should be allowed in. However, Bruckman warns, A founder/designer cant control what the community ultimately becomesmuch of that is up to the usersbut can help shape it(173). The community eventually becomes the voice of its members. These members are not just a part of something, they have an influence on others. This can be very powerful and effective. One way to help strengthen this influence, is to share with others their true identities. Members who are not willing to share their personal and professional identities are less likely to engage in serious discussion about their work and consequently about the media in general(174). Having divulging identity online adds to a persons credibility and effect on others. This makes the connection more personal. For example, if a fireman joins a community and needs advice on his or her job, he is not going to take the advice of someone else who is a not a fireman, especially if that person is a complete unknown and vice versa. For other communities, this policy may not be practical. For instance, someone discussing drug use or depression will more than likely want to keep his or her identity concealed. These people would probably not join a club that required personal information. Thus, the community objective would be hindered due to lack of participation. Each community needs to have its own policy on anonymity.

Theres room for diversity here too: some communities can be all-anonymous, some all-identified, and some can leave the decision up to each individual(174). If someone wants to join a community, all he or she needs to do is look for it. There are so many different types of communities with so many different policies that it is virtually impossible not to fit in somewhere by either joining or creating a community for ones self. To sum it all up, in Amy Bruckmans Finding Ones Own in Cyberspace, it is evident that the internet has a community for everyone, just like there is a bar or hangout for everyone in real life. People need to stop thinking about the bad things cyberspace has to offer and start looking at what can be helpful to them. Most importantly, diversity makes online communities much more accommodating. Diversity may carry a few negative aspects with it, but so does any bar. People may not agree with everything that the Internet brings with it. Someone else does agree with it. This is the same reason why the Internet it so amazing. Diversity makes this possible. Secondly just like a nightclub may not let people in so that it may keep its reputation, exclusivity and restrictions online are necessary so that communities can better achieve its goals as well. Lastly, the Internet offers an abundance of different ways to be apart of a group and to have an impact on others. Even if a person is unable to find a community that fits him or her, he or she can always form a new community. Everyone should be able to find a community online that fits them personally. As Bruckman says, the question should not be whether certain people are comfortable on the Web, but rather, what types of communities are possible? How can we create a range of communities so that everyonemen and womencan find a place that is comfortable for them(172). Personally, I agree with what Bruckman is trying to say. It upsets me when I hear about people complaining about the internet. The internet brings too many positive aspects to deny it. People can stay connected with others whom they are already know, meet new people and even join clubs with people that have similar interests. I use the internet for all three of these choices. I keep in touch with my friends that have gone away to college. I meet new people in chat rooms that discuss sports and current events. I am a member of a club that follows an NFL football team. I use the internet for many things and I have just scratched the surface on what I could be using it for. Amy Bruckman, in my opinion, is dead with her assessment of the internet.
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