Class 3: Online Communities. Who are we?

October 26, 2011


This week’s class opened with a talk on academic writing. The three main types of writing – descriptive, reflective and critical – were explained. While some writing will inevitably fall into the first two categories it is the third that is most important. Critical writing in an academic context must be based on informed opinion and must reference appropriate texts, such as those appearing in books, journals, newspapers and selected websites. It is very important that you give references for your sources and don’t run the risk of plagiarism, even by accident. The school recommends the Chicago Style for referencing. You are expected to write the posts to your blogs in an academic style from now on. You can also demonstrate your critical thinking by commenting on other blogs and encouraging others to comment on yours. Try to encourage lively critical debate on your blog.

The class discussion about online communities looked at the Deviant Art and Krishna De sites in particular. Each is quite distinct: Deviant Art, a loose community of artists, was described as being a useful platform for promotion and sales but could be irritating due to the many members interested solely in promoting their egos while the Krishna De site was seen as a more controlled and specific space for those with an interest in business and marketing. This led to a discussion about ‘rules of engagement’ and etiquette, conventions and regulations that may govern how communities function. Comparisons were made with real life communities and groups and also with Facebook, Linked In and Second Life. Facebook’s policy of accepting accounts only in real names (as opposed to pseudonyms) and the implications for retaining your data resources in the case of a breach was considered.

A reminder was given that the week four assessment of the blogs would be carried out this week. All activities from classes 1, 2 and 3 should be completed by Friday 28th October. The writing activity given below should be posted to your blog by 12 noon on Wednesday next 3rd November.


1. Post an article, written in academic style, to your blog discussing the importance of etiquette, convention and regulation in online communities. Write a minimum of 500 words.

2. READING: This paper from US lawyer Greg Lastowka “User Generated Content and Virtual Worlds” sets out the legalities around protecting content in no uncertain terms. http://ssrn.com/abstract=1094048dfgd

3. READING: Top ten rules for writing a critical blog by a blogging GP.

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