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The Social Structure of Online Communities

The Social Structure of Online Communities

Part of Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences

  • Date Published: April 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108499132


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About the Authors
  • With great potential benefit and possible harm, online social media platforms are transforming human society. Based on decades of deep exploration, distinguished scholar William Sims Bainbridge surveys our complex virtual society, harvesting insights about the future of our real world. Many pilot studies demonstrate valuable research methods and explanatory theories. Tracing membership interlocks between Facebook groups can chart the structure of a social movement, like the one devoted to future spaceflight development. Statistical data on the roles played by people in massively multiplayer online games illustrate the Silicon Law: information technology energizes both freedom and control, in a dynamic balance. The significance of open-source software suggests the traditional distinction between professional and amateur may fade, whereas web-based conflicts between religious and political groups imply that chasms are opening in civil society. This analysis of online space and the divergent communities is long overdue.

    • Explores the diversity of important social phenomena that computer science has made possible
    • Can serve as a textbook for students working in computer science
    • Provides a platform for social scientists and computer scientists to cooperate in the research and development of new cyber-social systems
    • Raises the challenge of technological determinism, while also suggesting that computer technology can be moderated by the humanities
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book is meant to function as a springboard for sociometric research on the social structure of online communities, and may be useful to beginning researchers facing the challenges and opportunities of studying unconventional and problematic human online relationships.' C. Wankel, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108499132
    • length: 338 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 161 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 43 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Facebook
    3. Virtual worlds
    4. Open-source software
    5. Wikis
    6. Citizen social science
    7. Digital government
    8. Cultural science.

  • Author

    William Sims Bainbridge, National Science Foundation
    William Sims Bainbridge has written or edited over forty books on culture and technology, most recently Family History Digital Libraries (2018) and Virtual Local Manufacturing Communities (2019). Past books include Star Worlds (2012), Dimensions of Science Fiction (1986), The Virtual Future (2011), The Spaceflight Revolution (1983), and Goals in Space (1991). He currently is a program director at the National Science Foundation.

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