Weblog modern equivalent of a Wunderkammer
With the growth of digital communication, the virtual community around Weblogs grew as well. Howard Rheinhold has in his book “the Virtual Community” from 1993 for the first time named the virtual community. Since then has it been a growing research area for Communication, Political, Sociology and Journalistic Science. These virtual communities are very dynamic, in part because new technical developments lead to new forms are being constructed on the Internet. The definition given by social scientist Reid in 1995 for the creation of the virtual community is: “. . .Rather than being constrained by the computer, the members of these groups creatively exploit the systems’ features so as to play with new forms of expressive communication, to explore possible public identities, to create otherwise unlikely relationships, and to create behavioral norms. In so doing, they invent new communities.” (Reid, E. in article Thomsen, 1998: p. 1).
These communities are being held in place because a core of persons within this community experiences its existence or feels themselves ‘strongly’ involved with the community. The core keeps the community in life by their continuous interactivities on often the same location, as a certain webpage. Social scientists emphasize that virtual communities derive their existence from a social network. They compare a Weblog or web-forum with the similar role of the coffee-houses and cafe’s played in the 18th century. They place the current virtual communities in the public sphere. As Marianne van den Boomen the digital social – cultural forces of the public domain on the internet in the article “The Digital third Place, Public terrain and community networks” (1999). ” Dutch version: De Digitale derde Plaats “Community networks are needed hard as protectors of the more or less undamaged public domain, a public domain of the users and organizations themselves, and also only exists for itself. Indeed, often does it look as a pure apolitical happening, dreaded by the hardcore activists. But the digital third place does form the key to the local social-cultural community building. Ferdinand Tönnies said it already a century ago: (translated) a Community does not have a external ground of existence, she only finds meaning from itself “De Digitale derde Plaats
The book “The Great Good Place” (1989) of Ray Oldenburg describes coffeehouses, cafes and communities as third place besides the family and the work, where current affairs are discussed. These public places cover the social life and offer a basis for the community and celebration of it. “The game is conversation and the third place is it’s home court” (Oldenburg, 1989: p.31). Visiting these places are for the individual means against stress, anonymity and loneliness (Oldenburg, 1989: pp.16, 31).
When talking about virtual communities and Weblogs we often name it Blogossphere. “’Intellectual cyberspace’ that bloggers (i.e. those who blog) occupy” (William Quick, 2001) . Besides characteristics of a virtual community, Weblogs do have some other features. Blogossphere is formed by the words ‘blogos’ and ‘sphere’. Blogos is the integration of the words blog en logos, logos is the Greek word for reason or logic. Sphere means area or atmosphere. Taken together one could speak of “an territory with own logic and reason” (Hiler,2002) . “Like any ecosystem, the Blogossphere has a life of its own, one that’s more than the sum of its Weblogs. You can’t understand a jungle by studying a single jaguar, and in the same way you can’t understand the Blogossphere by studying a single Weblog. Surfing the Blogossphere you can see evolutionary forces play out in real time, as Weblogs vie for niche status, establish communities of like-minded sites, and jostle for links to their site.” (Hiler,2002) .
Blogosspheres differ with most virtual communities by their extensive online network where members operate from and refer to. These are expressed in the links that they place on their Weblog and technology as RSS , that they use to follow placed articles by subject on several web pages. When Weblog X is several times linking to other Weblogs and these Weblogs link similarly back to Weblog X, we speak of a Blogossphere.