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The Internet Society is made up of many thousands of communities.

Because there are so many, and most only comprise a few people at any one time (most have only a few regulars). Being able to influence them is very time consuming and costly.

In addition they take many forms. There are the obvious types such as the newsgroups and chat sites. In addition there are the usergroups and bulleting boards. Furthermore there are the people whose primary interest is in a single site and interaction takes the form of e-mail exchanges with the site owner (nice if they are consumers).

Most people are active in a variety of groups and many will be involved with more than one discussion, chat or Web site.
There are Web site based communities such as the company Web site, a small part of the Internet. Members of Internet communities have a commonality of interest which is the glue that holds them together.

In his contribution to the BBC's on-line Communities day in June 1999, Internet guru, Howard Rhingold said: 'Structurally, the Internet has inverted the few-to-many architecture of the broadcast age, in which a small number of people were able to influence and shape the perceptions and beliefs of entire nations. In the many-to-many environment of the Net, every desktop is a printing press, a broadcasting station, and place of assembly. Mass-media will continue to exist, and so will journalism, but
these institutions will no longer monopolise attention and access to the attention of others.'

For some, notably John Hagel and Arthur Armstrong, the two McKinsey consultants who published a book in 1997 called "Net.Gain" there is a commercial opportunity to be gained from these so called virtual communities. They postulated that there were hundreds of millions of dollars are to be made in aggregating virtual communities.

That is in creating corporate virtual communities. In a sense they are right in that 'sticky' sites (that is Web sites that bring netzines back to the corporate site time and again) create Internet communities. The investment needed to create 'stickiness' is massive and for some, often in commercial terms fleetingly, is real. A not-for-profit example (albeit with massive broadcast promotion) is the BBC. The reason the Armstrong Hagel hypothesis is flawed is the range of communities that exist and will continue to exist in the Internet Society.

Thus the neighbourhoods near the factory and office, employees, vendors, customers, shareholders, governments, politicians and so forth are communities in the traditional and, potentially, the Internet Community sense.

Article Series

This article is part 14 of a 24 part series. Other articles in this series are shown below:
  1. The Internet Influence
  2. Reputation Management
  3. The Internet Society
  4. How People Use The Internet
  5. The Opinion Formers
  6. A Stakerholder Society
  7. Its Fast
  8. Technology For The People
  9. A Reputation For Responding
  10. Newsgroups, Chat and Cybercast
  11. The Nature of Newsgroups
  12. Chat Overtaking Newsgroups
  13. Cybercasting
  14. The Internet Communities
  15. Neighbourghood Communities
  16. Company Communities
  17. Community Currency
  18. The Effect Of Virutal Communities On The Bottom Line
  19. Political Communities
  20. Cyber Marketers
  21. Global Branding
  22. Accessibility
  23. Information and Content
  24. Cyberbrand Outreach Accessibility
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