Virtual Community: Koinonia or Compromise? Theological Implications of Community in Cyberspace

Samuel E. Ebersole and Robert Woods

With the growth of computer-mediated communication and the rise of virtual communities, theological issues relating to the nature of these relationships must be addressed. The authors first define community and then explore recent trends in online communities. The discussion of virtual community and new media technologies is grounded in a historical context focusing on the introduction of the telegraph and radio broadcasting. Buber's dialogic communication is proposed as a normative base for community in light of the interpersonal character of online community. And finally, six virtues of community are discussed in light of the technologies and practices of online community. Samuel E. Ebersole is Professor of Mass Communication and New Media at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, Colorado. Robert Woods is Assistant Professor of Communication at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan; he recently served as Dean of the School of Continuing Education and Director of the Leadership Studies Program at Yellowstone Baptist College, Billings, Montana, where he was responsible for online program development.

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Last Updated: February 2, 2002
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