I’m reading From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism.

It goes well with Metafilter and AskMetafilter, both of which I’ve been spending a lot of time on, though so far just lurking. I’ve been interested in online communities — how people get involved with them, what they do there, how it fits into their offline lives — since grad school.

What online communities are y’all part of? (Besides LiveJournal — I know a bunch of you read this via LJ.)

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  • littlebutfierce
    January 28, 2007 at 10:26 am

    I do/read a lot of zines, so I read/post on zine message boards from time to time.

    I had my first big online community experience via a mailing list for a popular fantasy author (whose works I now can’t stand, so he’ll remain nameless) around 1997. Since then I’ve been on & off various discussion lists for authors (&/or joined LJ communities about them), or more general lit lists (like the Feminist SF/F list). Mostly they’re done through YahooGroups. I’m also currently mulling library school, so I’ve subbed to a lot of librarian mailing lists recently.

    One thing that I’ve noticed over the past year or so is that a lot of online communities are springing up around fandoms for certain products–Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume oil, my friend’s jewelry, etc. Which kind of unnerves me, b/c other than trying to trade/sell stuff, what exactly binds these communities together? Getting recommendations for more stuff to buy, it seems like, & complaining about how you have to sell off some of your collection to pay your rent!!

  • capn_jil
    January 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

    The only online community I’ve been part of for any length of time these days is the POE News.

    I am about to be inducted into my first work-related mailing list. This makes me queasy.

    Also: hee hee Stewart Brand

  • thisisnotanlj
    January 28, 2007 at 11:31 am

    You are so right about the product-fandom-community phenomenon. There’s maybe an underlying assumption that similar taste in X means that you also have other similarities?

    I do see that playing out in real life, like if you’re wearing the same quirky brand (Threadless comes to mind) item as someone else, it can become a conversation-starter…

  • thisisnotanlj
    January 28, 2007 at 11:35 am

    You got a new job? Where/what?

  • signifier
    January 28, 2007 at 11:41 am

    I spend way, way, way too much time on I Love Everything (a.k.a. and its siblings I Love Music and I Love Comics. Warning: there is a lot of “local culture” there–customs, slang, in-jokes–and anyone who is looking for something to annoy them will find it there for sure.

    I also run two private mailing lists–one for discussing music (which was very active for seven years or so, and has been pretty sleepy for the last three or so), and one for discussing culture in general (which was moderately active for three or four years, and is now stone dead). I’ve started a couple of lists that totally failed to get off the ground, too. And I’m on another culture-discussion list that’s maintained a low level of activity–one or two messages a day, usually–for a good ten years, as well as a couple of smallish special-interest music lists.

    But I remember the circa-1990 era on USENET, too, when USENET was still even vaguely useful–there were certain groups that had de facto leaders, even when they weren’t moderated. I liked that.

    I suppose 52 Pickup practically counts as a (very small) online community at this point, in a way! I’ve got regulars for sure…

  • librarian
    January 28, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    In addition to metafilter, I also spend a few hours in metafilter spin-off sites like metachat and 1142. I know, it’s totally weird, but I’ve known a lot of these people going on 6-7 years now and they seem like (or become) people I hang out with IRL.

  • ndgmtlcd
    January 28, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Wikipedia, though not as much as two years ago, when the intensity of my activities got me nominated and “elected” as an admin without my ever asking for it. But neither LJ nor Wikipedia are really communities as intense as the one I knew for a bit more than a year back on GEnie (General Electric network for information exchange) way back at the end of the 1980s.

  • capn_jil
    January 28, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    No new job, but I got inducted into the PLG.

  • intendent
    January 29, 2007 at 7:30 am

    It’s a Star Trek/Star Wars/Fantasy site. I’ve been a member since I was 13 (2001!) and the people there have become some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I mean, I went to England to meet my best friend, and I miss him now. But I’m glad I did!

    And I had a member at my house this weekend, too. I’ve met loads of them IRL.

  • littlebutfierce
    January 29, 2007 at 8:49 am

    There’s maybe an underlying assumption that similar taste in X means that you also have other similarities?

    Yes, definitely–I just find it a little scary b/c it seems like the thread throughout these communities is largely “find me new cool stuff to buy!” & any other discussion is sort of on the side. I guess it’s the same reason why Friendster-like websites that are just based on what you own freak me out.

    Oh–I have a LibraryThing account (I don’t have all my books listed in there yet, alas) & participate in some communities on there. I don’t feel gross about LT, but I guess some people might argue that it’s the same as those websites where you can list all the crap you own.

    I definitely see the Threadless thing (I went to lunch w/3 friends recently & they were all wearing 3 different Threadless shirts by coincidence, hee). But… I don’t know, it seems like if you meet someone randomly by asking them about Threadless, you might end up talking about other stuff than where else you buy shirts? Certainly if you become friends that hang out in RL… I’d hope, anyway. Whereas online it seems to be easier just to pop into the community to find out what else to buy.

  • sarazarr
    January 29, 2007 at 10:20 am, a message board on which there is (usually) a lot of intelligent dialog about the intersection of books/movies/TV/music and faith. unfortunately it’s hard to find this in regular church circles where people are often afraid or reactionary.

    there are the YAnovelists, who are awesome awesome.

    i used to be involved in an online community about nutrition and i learned a lot.

    it is all very interesting and a testament to our human yearning for connection and understanding and knowledge, even though f2f permutations of that yearning seem to be fewer and farther between.

  • leemoyer
    January 29, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for the kindly Second Life suggestions. I’m amazed that any Moyer is still available there given that Moyers fills many a Yellow Page (and Moyerses) in states bordering the Pennsylvania Dutch. The sad(?) truth is that I have way too much first life to play in a second.

    I resisted the siren song of LJ for a year or two, but eventually gave in as LJ allows and encourages communication with many long-lost (aka east-coast) brothers and sisters. The sheer mass of information and ideas is great (consider yourself friended btw) and the few friends I’ve made online are delightful.

    I lurk quietly on Crooks and Liars, AmericaBlog and DailyKos because they actually report news and i like to stay informed (as opposed to being spoon-fed propaganda). And despite my somewhat brazen personality, I feel little need to actually speak up in any of those places because there are already more than enough clever people that I’d be a mere chorine.

  • anonymous
    January 29, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Speaking of Stewart Brand… the well, baby, old-school cyber community in a big way. Won a free year there in 1997 and stuck around til now and beyond… it helps that I was asked to host a conference (which comes with free monthly access) so i never did have to pay for the place. It’s small, but it feels like home by now, and i’ve met several real-life friends through it. Just signed up for the new community boards, but so far, not so much going on there. And of course, I’m on a few mailing lists, do they count? – Mim

  • anonymous
    January 29, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    For me, it’s all about Metafilter (more AskMe than the actual blue, these days) and Last Plane to Jakarta, when I’m not feeling too old for it.

  • vj_pdx
    January 31, 2007 at 6:07 am

    I mostly hang out in the forum, but I lurk elsewhere, the Shift to Bikes mailing list and Flickr.

    It should be interesting to see how things change (or not) if I become vegan.

  • anonymous
    February 6, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    i have joined Xanga, Myspace, Mogenic,, and i think that’s it… oh wait, i have something on (i think that’s wut it’s called. i dont remember b/c i havent been on for a while.)
    also, i forgot to add this one website with National Writing month (in nov.) that one is cool.