Alexandra Mack

Studying physical processes in the virtual world. Online forums and mail packages

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Virtual communities can form around decidedly physical events and processes. This study focuses on research conducted online to understand the sending and receiving of mail and packages. This experience afforded a chance to reflect on community at several levels and from different points of view. One aspect involved the researcher's experience in moving between the communities—beginning as a lurker on open forums to understand the landscape of issues discussed, moving to a community member, and then "creating" a community of diary participants. Another aspect was that of the community member moving between contexts—of online and offline activity, as well as online community participation versus online research participation.


  • Participation
  • community creation
  • research context


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