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Chapter 7: Virtual Community in a Telepresence Environment
The revolution in global networked communications has given rise to a new generation of social technologies, including mechanisms for the formation and cultivation of interpersonal relationships (Baym, 1995; Reid, 1991; Rheingold, 1993; Smith, McLaughlin, & Osborne, in press; Walther & Burgoon, 1992; Wilkins, 1991). Individuals united by common goals and interests encounter and engage one another in online bulletin boards, mailing lists, chat rooms, and Web spaces. Unlike face-to-face interaction, in which relationships are initiated and then topics of mutual interest sought, Internet users can go directly to the topics that interest them and pursue interaction with like-minded others (Rheingold, 1993).
There is evidence to indicate that for some ...