Definition of Virtual
During our February 16 meeting, we thought that it was time for us to define what virtual meant, especially as it related to communities. At first, we didn't think that it would be a huge discussion generator. Upon reflection, we were led into some interesting areas along the way. Sometimes is was difficult to separate "virtual" from "community", so we just went along with it. Here are some things that we came up with:
- According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, virtual means "of, relating to, or possessing a power of acting without the agency of matter".
- We agree with Webster -- we think that it is nonphysical.
- It is distance independent; geography does not have to be a factor.
- If something is virtual, it shares most of the characteristics of whatever it is a representation of.
- It could be digital, but not necessarily. Maybe it is digitally facilitated.
- It is doing something without actually physically being there. Conference calls and teleconferencing were examples that came to mind.
- It is dependent on electronics, wire, and transmission.
- It is not simulated. When looked at in the context of a virtual community, some things in the virtual community are simulated, but the community itself is not simulated.
- It could be a surrogate. Again, the virtual community concept was elaborated upon. A virtual community could initially begin as a surrogate, but at some point it becomes an actual community.
- It could simply mean that something may be virtual because it is electronic.
Our discussion gave us more things to think about, such as:
- At what point, if any, does a virtual community evolve into an actual community?
- Is "virtual community" the right name for what we are discussing?
Return to Virtual
This document was created and is maintained by the Virtual Communities group in Howard Besser's ILS 604 class (Winter 1996)