From: Malcolm (Mac) Parks ([email protected])
To: Feedbag
Subject: Dialog Feedback


Rheingold, Slouka, Horn, and Mitchell serve up a spicey first course.
The discussion touches upon issues of fundamental importance, not only
for cyberspace, but also for our culture more generally. Indeed I think
there is nothing more important than the realization that our discussions
of cyberspace mirror our larger cultural discussions as well as echo
long-running debates about the nature of modernity. This is not new
stuff, folks.

Having said that, we might wish for two things as the debate
unfolds. First, let’s be thoughtful about the word community. What do
we mean by it? What’s the difference between one’s social circle and
one’s community? Between a special interest group and a community?
Second, let’s acknowledge what we don’t know. There is hardly any
systematic research on social relationships in cyberspace that goes
beyond low- to medium-grade ethnographies and case studies. They do not
generalize. Nor should we allow our contributors to pass off personal
examples as empirical generalizations– as at least two of them attempt
to do. We really know very little about this stuff and the discussion
that might best serve is the discussion that sharpens our focus,
illuminates our assumptions and biases, and identifies clearly what we
still need to learn.



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