From virtual communities to social media, and beyond


WorldChangingIt’s always refreshing, in this era of (often) ready-made and quickly-digested social media, to take a look at the history and feeling of virtual communities, dating back to late 80’s, early 90’s. It’s always important to find common ground and shared roots in the evolution of the social internet, and to highlight the shared pattern of our ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ lives, from yesterday up to tomorrow. Of course, the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, better known as The WELL, is the first name that comes to mind. And here is a great interview with Cliff Figallo, the second director of The WELL, mostly responsible for managing «its transition from a Bay Area computer bulletin board system for an eclectic combination of authors, journalists, deadheads and forward thinkers, to a globally linked online community and seminal influence on the social web — the system that led Howard Rheingold to coin the term “virtual community.”» Personally, it’s also fun to recall my early, awkward experiences on The WELL, when I learned hands-on the joys and sorrows of such environments (the first Italian to do so :-), and I also had the chance to personally meet Cliff, Howard, and others. Also interesting is the second part of Cliff’s interview – by Jon Lebkowsky, another mind of that community still socially involved – dealing with different issues related to climate change. Yes, everything is connected — online & offline.


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