I found “Daily Life in Cyberspace” to be one of the more engaging readings of the class so far. The WELL as starki09 points out is very similar to our current cyber community, even if the technology itself is different. So, in this sense it felt extremely relevant. To me, however, the point Rheingold makes that stands out is his characterization of the personal computers as a form of counterculture. Today, the web and computers are enmeshed in daily life. Computers are used for the most mundane and corporate of functions; it is all too easy to forget the dazzling array of creative and intellectual possibilities made possible by this technology.
I think part of the reason why my perception of the Internet has been so different than that of Rheingold is that I generally don’t conceive of the resources of the web as connected to individual people. With the exception of social networking sites like Facebook, I rarely imagine individual people shaping the web. Somehow I imagine it as a distinct entity removed from individual impact.
The section of “Daily Life in Cyberspace” called “Persons” really helped me to reverse this image. The description of the participants of the WELL really made me feel like I had a more tangible understanding of why this community was so highly valued by Rheingold. Additionally, the biographies of new users emphasized the diversity of experiences that converged in this system and the potential for knowledge and shared understandings that this kind of interaction affords.
However, in my day-to-day Internet use I have not stumbled upon any sites that have both this same community feel AND the wealth of information described in the article. I’m starting to release that as much as the Internet feels like a part of my daily life, my use of the Internet is in fact quite limited. Does anyone have any experience with sites that could expose me to the same type of discussions and community of the WELL? If so, have you found these sites helpful? I’m really curious about exploring this kind of forum, but I don’t want it to be another huge procrastination tool in my life. Suggestions?