Virtual Community: Finding Connection in a Computerized World

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The technology news is filled with money as corporate moguls from Hollywood, the cable business, the computer industry, and the telephone companies scramble to exploit America's much ballyhooed "Electronic Superhighway". Suddenly, the interlinked network for computerized communication that grew up quietly on its own is gushing "Infotainment" possibilities. Interactive is the buzz word today, alongside convergence, cyberspace, and digital future. In The Virtual Community, Howard Rheingold returns the focus of our attention to people, working back from this commercialized present to the very beginnings of computer-mediated communication, giving us the lay of the land before it was discovered by government and the corporate giants. What he reveals to us is a true electronic frontier of fiercely independent enthusiasts who have created closely knit communities and a rich culture on-line, exchanging everything from scientific data to sexual fantasies, child-rearing tips, and free-ranging political opinions. As Rheingold makes clear, this one of several possible "futures" already exists in very appealing form on-line. The question he poses is: Will these original homesteaders on the electronic frontier now be driven out by the "railroad and cattle barons" of the communications industry? Even more important, through censorship and commercialization, will we all lose the greatest resource ever for community-building and the free expression of ideas, even before most of us know of its existence? Howard Rheingold is the ultimate insider on networked communication, a key participant in the Bay Area "WELL" on-line community. Venturing out from his own neighborhood on the WELL, he gives us a tour of on-line culture in Japan, England, France, and on small and large bulletin boards and networks throughout the United States. He shows us the depth of human interaction made possible, ironically enough, by this seemingly faceless technology, as well as the power of true electroni
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Editorial Reviews

A compelling and well written account of the history and present circumstances of the much talked about information superhighway. Will the original homesteaders of this electronic frontier be driven out by the "railroad and cattle barons" of the communication industry? That question, among many others, is addressed by this on-line insider. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201608700
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 1/1/1993
  • Pages: 325

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 The Heart of the WELL 17
Ch. 2 Daily Life in Cyberspace: How the Computerized Counterculture Built a New Kind of Place 38
Ch. 3 Visionaries and Convergences: The Accidental History of the Net 65
Ch. 4 Grassroots Groupminds 110
Ch. 5 Multi-User Dungeons and Alternate Identities 145
Ch. 6 Real-time Tribes 176
Ch. 7 Japan and the Net 197
Ch. 8 Telematique and Messageries Rose: A Tale of Two Virtual Communities 220
Ch. 9 Electronic Frontiers and Online Activists 241
Ch. 10 Disinformacracy 276
Bibliography 301
Index 307
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