The Virtual Know How

Writing about virtual communities’ and how it applies to knowledge management motivated me to dive a bit deeper. Calhoun (1998) writes extensively about the rise of virtual communities and how this rise has affected our definition and characterization of community as a whole. He describes how a transformation is taking place, a transformation of community and political activity generated from the enhanced connectivity now available to Internet users. Calhoun also discusses the various questions, both necessary and cautionary, that arise from the vast changes that have taken place since the Internet came online. And in some instances, how we may begin to ask the wrong questions. Calhoun suggests that our critical thinking should begin with the study of communities and then focus our attention on the computer mediated communication within them. As Calhoun (1998) explains, when we reverse this process, and begin our study of CMC and then on the communities within them, we lead ourselves into a biased perspective.

With this highly intriguing style of critical thinking in mind I began to create and evaluate new questions of my own. My initial thoughts focused on my foremost example of community, being the conceptualization of family. Family communication and knowledge sharing has without a doubt experienced transformations over the last decade, especially in terms of long distance communication and knowledge management. This transformation is, of course due in part to the rise and wide spread availability of personal Internet accessible devices such as cell hones and laptop computers. In fact, it would be accurate to say families are more connected and share more knowledge now than ever before.

Some could argue that because this connectivity is largely communicative the emotional and physical levels of connectivity are left unfulfilled. While I do not disagree with this notion, I do believe that technology is beginning to blur the line between face to face interpersonal communication and computer mediated interpersonal communication. My case in point being the growing use of “Facetime” technology currently installed on the majority of handheld wireless communicative devices (i.e. cell phones, iPads, etc.).

It would seem as though the advancement of “Facetime” technology has begun to transcend previously conceived notions of electronically mediated communication and knowledge management. Dahlberg (2001) introduces the discourse of this argument quite well. Simply stated, electronically mediated communication is known to cancel out the true nature of the human encounter and thus degrades the interaction as a whole. Without a grounded identity present, the opportunity for a meaningful association diminishes along with any obligation for “actual bodily commitment” (p. 9). While this may be true in our online political discourse, analyzing electronically meditated communication with present day technology would, in my belief, render a much different conclusion with a familial lens of study.

We now live in an age where family members can interact face-to-face without any burden of time or space. The concluding question of this blog is if this type of interaction requires an “actual bodily commitment” even across virtual space creates a more meaningful interaction for the users compared to the long accustomed telephone conversation and would knowledge management be adversely affected. This is certainly a significant communicative transformation for familial communities and an area of study I would be interested to find more about.


Calhoun, C. (1998). Community with propinquity revisited: Communications technology   and the transformation of the urban public sphere. Sociological Inquiry, 68 (3), 373-393.

Dahlberg, L. (2001). Computer mediated communication and the public sphere: a critical anlaysis. JCMC, 1-26.


One comment

  1. hereticalpoetical · April 29, 2016

    Although I agree that we have technologies to supplement face-to-face communication, I do not think this is a true substitute for all of the elements (i.e., verbal and nonverbal communication) present in a true face-to-face interaction. I would argue that meaning may be lost in these interactions due to the lack of experiencing the same environmental factors together or technology lag.


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