Joe Arteaga and David Ing


Virtual communities can be described as a modern extension of traditional communities, through a new medium -- information technology. The mediation of communications through computers does, however, have systemic effects on the behaviors of the members of the community. Many of the shortcomings of virtual communities may be resolved through a better understanding of their nature and purposes.

This paper outlines some of the differences between virtual communities and traditional communities which result from use of the intermediating technology. The purpose of the virtual community as a social system is then described in terms of the four ideals suggested by Ackoff & Emery (1972), applied both to the community in its parts (i.e., the members) and of the whole (i.e., the community). The "five ways of knowing" -- categorizations of inquiring systems, as suggested by Mitroff & Linstone (1993) -- are then applied to describe the interaction, development and maturity of purpose for virtual communities.


Joe Arteaga and David Ing, "The Nature and Purpose of Virtual Communities", Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, at Asilomar, California, June 27 to July 2, 1999.


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1999/06 The Nature and Purpose of Virtual Communities