A New Perspective on "Community" and its Implications for Computer-Mediated Communication Systems
Scholars have long argued about the nature of "community," and the growth of Internet-based communication and "online communities" has intensified this debate. This paper argues that a new perspective on the concept "community" can shed light on the subject. Ideas from cognitive science, particularly category theory, can help. I suggest that community can be viewed as a prototype-based category. Prototype-based categories are defined not by simple rules of inclusion and exclusion, but instead by their prototypical members-a robin is a better example of a bird than an emu or a penguin. Items in a category are better or worse examples of the category depending on their degree of similarity to the prototypical members. I will argue that these theoretical insights can help resolve debates about the nature of community, and also can help guide designers of computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems.
Bruckman, Amy (2006). "A New Perspective on "Community" and its Implications for Computer-Mediated Communication Systems." Works in Progress, Extended Abstracts, Proceedings of CHI 2006, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, April 2006.