Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Not a Casual Observer

It strikes me that the type of community Keenan discussed on Tuesday (forum-based, shifting host sites, "collectable" video downloads, etc.) can be considered atypical for the internet. It sounded as if, as time has progressed and the leaders of these online communities have adapted and grown more savvy, these communities were not accessible to all and shining examples of democracy in the internet. To access these communities, one must know where the forums are, where the hosted sites are, stay smart enough to follow the site shifts, get a recommendation from a more trusted member, and even, as Keenan suggested, meet with a respected member in real life. One cannot casually review these sites and stay loosely in touch with these communities. Visitors must be members-- engaged members who visit often and stay in touch with what goes on in the forums. In short, it seems as if visitors must join and stay connected to the community in order to even peruse these sites. A visitor must somehow become invested even before he/she fully understands what he/she is invested in. This seems to fit with some of what Keenan was saying about jihadist groups-- staying mainly secretive, mobile, and closely knit. Anyway, I thought that this change in what type of visitor can see these sites was interesting.

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