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VWN Product Reviews: The Virtual Community

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First published in 1994, The Virtual Community was a revolutionary book, which inspired so much of the VR and social networking growth of the 90s. Within these pages, now revised and updated for the modern situation, Howard explores every facet of online communities ranging from the WELL, that think-tank of innovation and invention, to the sphere of MUDs and MOOs.

Written in a casual, easygoing style, the book often reads like a leisure-book, easily flowing from one topic to the next.

Much of the material in the book is geared towards explaining how the internet, and cyber-cultures are changing the nature of human communities, creating new kinds of ties, and branches where there were none before.

As the book itself states at one point ?We human beings have often been referred to as social animals. But we are not yet community creatures.?

Virtual Worlds such as we know them, aside from the general communities, are covered in astounding depth as well. Coverage starts with the original MUD1, created in 1979 by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle, going into considerable depth about this, the first MUD, and how it differed so radically from the kinds of communities that had come before.

Indeed MUDs, MUSHes, MOOs and MUVEs are discussed in great depth, referred to again and again once first brought up in the book, with links to research projects, the odd, semi-pornographic practice with text known as net.sleezing, profound alterations to people?s lives and so very much more.

This was the first tome to consider net addiction putting it as:

?We have people who use LambdaMOO who are not in control of their usage, who are, I believe, seriously addicted? These people aren?t addicted to video games. It wouldn?t do the same thing for them. They?re communications addicted. They?re addicted to being able to go out and find people 24 hours a day and have interesting communications with them.?

VR and internet communities around the world are discussed in detail, the effects of internet democracy on politics looked at in depth. In short, almost every effect the internet has had, has been looked at to some extent, within this single tome. Now revised, to take into account the recent rise of social, graphical communities, this book is a must for anyone seriously looking at the changing power of the virtual community.

 

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