Two things struck me as particularly interesting when reading Rheinold’s piece.
The first is the fact that these online communities were in large part created, designed, and structured by ex-commune members and old hippies. Having grown up in the age of the internet and being only a standard internet user (i.e. Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, and Youtube are probably my most visited sites), I’ve never thought of the web as something which could be used as a potentially left-leaning tool for communication in any way. Of course, now it makes total sense that something like the web (and specifically these types of online communities) is actually pretty progressive, in that it’s largely uncensored, encourages free thought and [written] speech, and is pretty much ungoverned by a higher authority.
The second thing I found interesting was Rheingold’s lack of any mention of the potential dangers of online communities pose. The anecdotes he provides about coming to know specific WELL users personally on are interesting and engaging, but pretty unlikely today. I feel like early on, I was always warned about not giving any real information about yourself online to strangers. Particularly in the age of Myspace, I remember hearing horror stories about teens meeting people online who turned out to be pedophiles. I don’t know how often this actually occurred, but I definitely feel that privacy has become a much larger concern than Rheingold might have predicted.