Online Communities: Interactions and PlaceMaking in a Virtual Environment
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We are studying placemaking online and how and why people participate in these communities. In our literature review we focus on the unique aspects of virtual space such as the varying degrees of anonymity, the disjoint between body and mind and how these translate to identity formation online, specifically to the online communities of Reddit, Twitter, and Smashboards. In the bulk of this paper we apply Timothy Cresswell's atomization of place (location, locale, and sense of place) to these three distinct online communities in order to examine the ways that they agree with or deviate from this traditional method of understanding. Through a series of interviews and observations we challenge the conceptions of place and determine if traditional definitions should be reinterpreted to accommodate both physical and virtual places. Finally, we synthesize these results in a spatialized graphic that represents the iterative nature of the components of place.
Includes Illustrations, Spatialized Graphic, Figures, Appendices and Bibliography.