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Online Communities

Video clip synopsis – ALTOS - an online chat community based in Germany - provided a 'world without borders' for its members.
Year of production - 2001
Duration - 2min 45sec
Tags - changing communities, communication, culture, emerging technologies, Internet, online communities, technological change, technology and society, see all tags


Online Communities

How to Download the Video Clip

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Additional help.

About the Video Clip


This video clip is an excerpt from the film In the Realm of the Hackers, produced in 2001. In the Realm of the Hackers is a Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with John Moore Productions and with the assistance of Film Victoria and the ABC. The video clip is on the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

The interviews with Trevor Barr and Scott Goodings were recorded for the website.

Trevor Barr is an author, professor and the Director of the Creative Industries Research & Applications Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed 'TV freak’ and walking archive. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Area of study 3. New media

This area of study focuses on the social consequences of the emergence of new media technologies. The creative implications of new media technologies are considered in the context of the capabilities of the technologies, their relationship with existing media, how they provide alternative means of representation and distribution of media products. Their cultural significance is investigated in terms of how they challenge and alter our perception of the world through the media products that can be produced and consumed, and the changes, possibilities and concerns that may arise in society.

Technological advancements in the media occur within the context of the society in which they are created, developed and used. Such developments, therefore, not only affect media products themselves but also change the processes involved in production, distribution and consumption. In many instances they may also influence the nature of the reality (the event) being depicted by the media; for example, digital imaging techniques have allowed the manipulation (that is altering, distorting, mutating and reshaping) of photographic representations. The convergence of new media technologies, digitisation, computerisation and high-speed data transfer create new pathways for the transmission, exchange and storage of both existing and new forms of information and entertainment. Issues such as ownership, copyright, privacy and access gain new significance in terms of the relationship between media technology and the circulation of representation.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


“... probably the first thing anyone notices when they go online … is the community-building taking place all through cyberspace. Old people talk to old people, lonely gay teens find other lonely gay teens, unpublished poets trade with unpublished poets, physicians swap case histories with physicians, parents of dying children comfort parents of other dying children, plumbers order parts from plumbers, truckers chat with truckers …” [Jon Katz, 1995] (qtd Barr 249)

“[People] exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love …” [Howard Rheingold, 1993] (qtd Barr 250)

“Tomorrow’s children will be released from geographical limitations on friendship and collaboration.” [Trevor Barr, 2002] (Barr 251)

A 'community’ could be described as any group of people who share beliefs or a feeling of belonging together or a common interest or purpose. The Internet and Web have created the possibility of 'virtual communities’ with new and different kinds of human relationships.

With new communications technologies, people who might never meet face-to-face 'meet’ online, where they share thoughts and ideas, express feelings, form attachments, even work in highly collaborative ways. Relationships online take many forms – they can be one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many. Together these virtual relationships are the basis of online communities, which function through email and two-way mailing lists, discussion groups and forums, via document and file exchange, real time 'chat’, and by working or playing in virtual spaces known as Multi-User Domains (MUDs).

MUD-dwellers “improvise melodramas, build worlds and all the objects in them, solve puzzles, invent amusements and tools, compete for prestige and power, gain wisdom, seek revenge, indulge greed and lust and violent impulses … [This is] the wild side of cyberspace culture, where magic is real and identity is fluid …” [Howard Rheingold, The Virtual Community, 1993]

Classroom Activities


Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and the video clip itself:

  1. Do you belong to an online community? How often do you access it? Is it better, worse or just different to a local community? Why? If you don’t belong to one, what sort of online community might you see yourself joining?
  2. What advantages do you see in belonging to an online community? What disadvantages might there be?
  3. What dangers do you think there might be in online communities?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.