Discuss class goals, objectives and expectations. The Syllabus can be found on the eCompanion.


Let’s work on a definition of “online community” together.

History of Online Communities

Video: “Past, Present, and Future of Virtual Communities on June 23, 2014” from Google Development Groups [49:42]

This video features writer Howard Rheingold being interviewed by his daughter Mamie. In the interview, he mentions a number of people and concepts which will be helpful to understand before watching.

  • The WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, founded 1985 in Sausalito) – one of the oldest online communities
  • Doug Englebart – invented the computer mouse and other technologies for human-computer interaction
  • ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Net) – the precursor of the Internet, established 1969
  • The Source (1979-1989), AOL (America Online), and CompuServe (founded 1969) – pre-WWW online services
  • BBS (Bulletin Board System) – a computer server with software that allows users to connect to the server remotely
  • Ward Christensen – cofounded the first BBS with Randy Suess in 1978
  • Usenet – a worldwide Internet discussion system, the precursor to online forums, started in 1980
  • PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) – the first computer-assisted instruction platform, which began in 1960
  • Internet troll – a person who repeatedly posts inflammatory messages in an online community
  • Slashdot – an early website for aggregating nerdy news stories, launched 1997
  • Sockpuppet – a fake online identity used for deceiving other members of an online community
  • CU-SeeMe – an early videoconferencing client, introduced 1993
  • Peeragogy – as coined by Rheingold in 2012, a system within which peers teach each other via online communities
  • IRC (Internet Relay Chat) – a chat system that allows users to send messages to each other, or within group forums called channels, invented in 1988
  • FidoNet – a worldwide computer network used for communication between BBSs.
  • Crap detection – the act of distinguishing fact-based information from misinformation
  • Bozo filter – a function of an online community that allows a user to block messages from another user

Offline Community

Let’s have a conversation about our experiences in online communities.

Discussion Topics

  • When was your first experience with an OC, and what was it like?
  • What drew you to this OC?
  • Tell us a story, good or bad, about an experience you had within an OC.
  • What OCs are you currently most active in?
  • What do you contribute to your OCs?
  • What do you get out of being active in OCs?
  • Have you met anyone in person that you first encountered in an OC?
  • Has the existence of OCs affected your learning?
  • Why do people spend so much of their time in OCs?
  • Do you interact with companies via OCs?
  • Do you run or moderate any OCs?
  • From your experience, what makes an OC successful?
  • What specific strategies should you develop prior to starting on OC?


Ward Cunningham invented the concept of a wiki in 1995. A wiki uses a community online to collaborate in the collection and publication of knowledge.

Video: Ward Cunningham: From the first Wiki to the future of online community [5:34]


I have just created my first Wiki at Online Community Wikia. Let’s figure out how to get you all established as editors, and start adding content!