January 2009

In “The Victorian Internet”, Tom Standage relates to the reader the trials and tribulations that the pioneer inventors of the 19th century went through in developing the telegraph. Not only did the inventors have to invent a successful, working telegraph but they also had to gain the approval of the public and those in charge of funding and using the invention for the betterment of society. Standage does a wonderful job of working in stories of offshoot uses of the telegraph that its inventors had not planned for, from online romances to criminal mischief. All in all, Standage makes his readers realize something not many had considered: that there was an internet in the 19th century and the telegraph is responsible for this. (more…)

The article written by Bower and Christensen was a good read given the knowledge I have gained in both Digital Economics and Digital Democracy.  I found it ironic that on the first page it listed Deere as taking over its market, yet today on the news I saw they had to lay off a few hundred employees.  So even the companies that the article praised, still ended up having some serious flaws in their business plan.  The inability of these companies to properly prepare for disruptive technologies time and time again is astounding.  They just wont ever learn that Corporate Joe up in the penthouse suite isn’t going to predict the future magically.  The article also used Seagate as an example of not preparing for disruptive technology, I was not even aware that Seagate had been around this long.  I guess after reading the article it is easy to see why they aren’t at the top of the hard drive industry.  Misreading the habits of the lead customers and terrible response actions to their competition doomed Seagate.  Now I am buying their external hard drives as an afterthought instead of them leading the market. (more…)

Thesis :

One of the many qualities that make up human behavior is our desire to communicate and work with others.  In this digital age, it has become common for those lacking social skills to accomplish these desires to turn to online message board communities to interact with others.  However, not all of these message boards are set up as havens for the socially inept.  Could the true power and potential of community lie within social networks geared towards people with both offline and online social skills?


Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them.
— Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

I intend to look at a specific on line community and show how its members have used their various talents to create a vast and powerful network, despite at first only having their message board as means to communicate with one another.  As time went on and it became apparent which members possessed adequate social skills, this translated into projects and meet ups facilitated by offline interaction.  The ones who neither had this quality or simply weren’t interested in that type of social interaction eventually were pruned from the ranks.  This left a fellowship of like minded individuals who would not let the constraints of a computer screen hinder goals that in the past would only be possible with face to face interaction.  This is the digital age’s e-firm.  There are no physical offices, which is perfect when work needs to be done in Seattle one day, and in Houston or Barcelona the next.

This project will show the way humans need for community are being met with today’s technology, and the pros and cons of accomplishing them using this technology. Finally, it will show the boons of creating a community that makes the best of both the on and offline world.  Social networking does not have to be strictly digital, it is the hybrid version that will accomplish the most in today’s age.

Kline, David.  Blog! : how the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture. New York : CDS Books, 2005.

This book is relevant to my topic of Online Communities because it discusses the benefits of putting ones personal thoughts and views online and into the public eye.

My idea for a topic for the research project is Online Communities.  I would like to examine how these communities are used as places of expression, social interactivity, and dsicussion of common interests.  I would also like to discuss the pros and cons of these online communities and their effect on my generation.

1.  How has your realization of the existence of Cyberspace affected your time spent on the internet?

2  Why do you believe that those of the older generation have such a hard time establishing an online life?

3  How has the younger generations reliance on having an online personality affected their offline lives?