Abstract - The Information Society 19(5)

SPECIAL ISSUE: ICTs and Community Networking

Community Networks: Rules of Behavior and Social Structure

Fiorella De Cindio, Gentile, Philip Grew, Daniela Redolfi


This paper investigates the intertwining relationships between the Gemeinshaft and the Gesellshaft dimension of a community network (CN), i.e., of a virtual community whose members' common interest is a locality, in our case the city of Milan, Italy. The paper looks through the experience of the last seven years of life on RCM - the Milan Community Network - to reflect on the role that the sharing of rules of behavior has on the evolution of social structure in a virtual community. It identifies three phases of development - the design phase, the first growth phase, and the most recent phase - and presents the social structure set up to guarantee governance of the CN. The conclusions show that the third phase is not an actual stable state; for the continuous evolution of the societal and technological context requires continuous redesign of the CN itself in order to meet the renewed demands of a new context.

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