A new perspective on "community" and its implications for computer-mediated communications systems

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Citation: Amy Bruckman (2006) A new perspective on "community" and its implications for computer-mediated communications systems. CHI '06 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (RSS)

doi: 10.1145/1125451.1125579



Published as a "work in progress", Bruckman's article on community is an attempt to intervene in an area of disagreement in the literature on online community. According to Bruckman, the concept of community has been a highly contested one in the broader CHI and CSCW literature which has been used broadly to refer to a number of different types of groups and organizations or even as a synonym for group. Bruckman claims in her article that the use of the term has been so contentious that loose use of the term has been used as criteria for reject of a community.

Bruckman's article borrow from the cognitive psychology literature to argue for a definition of community with a "fuzzy" boundary. She uses the example of a penguin which is a bird, but which might be seen as less of a bird than a sparrow. She argues that we should find prototypical communities and pursue a radial definition from there.

Bruckman argues that if we do so, we will be left with a series of what she argues are more salient questions:

  1. What kinds of community are we concerned with?
  2. What are our implicit prototypes for each type of community?
  3. Should we be considering alternative prototypes?
  4. How can we learn from these examples to guide our design projects?

She argues that this perspective will allow us to ask different questions, and provide a framework for these different question to be connected to each other, rather than fighting to ensure that we are all on the same page.