Grassroots initiated networked communities: A study of hybrid physical/virtual communities

Gaved, Mark and Mulholland, Paul (2005). Grassroots initiated networked communities: A study of hybrid physical/virtual communities. In: Proceedings: 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - Volume 07, Hawai'i January 2005, IEEE Computer Society, Washington DC, USA, pp. 191–193.


Virtual communities have been the focus of research since the beginning of the Internet. A more recent phenomenon is the hybrid networked community: a physical community extended by a network infrastructure, seeking to enhance existing social interactions, storage and dissemination of knowledge using both online and offline channels of communication.

This paper considers one specific form: grassroots initiated networked communities. These are communities of locality that have developed their own Internet and /or intranet infrastructure with minimal external support. They believe that establishing such a network will enhance communication and 'sense of community' within their geographically defined boundaries. These initiatives may offer a viable and sustainable method for overcoming multiple digital inequalities, support the development of social capital, and provide insights into the impact of near-ubiquitous social computing.

We review a case study of five such projects in the UK, identifying characteristics, methods of function, and long term aims. An outline of this work is presented and indications of likely future developments offered.

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