Analysing the development, management and growth of integrated digital communities
This thesis is concerned with understanding and describing the nature of 'community' within digital domains. A literature review indicates multiple media use within communities. The increasing range of personal and organisational technologies available suggests digital communities are more than just online communities. As such they require a new method of assessment. The design of digital communities should be based on an understanding of 'community' in digital domains. Previous assessments, often focusing exclusively on the Internet, failed to recognise the ways in which technologies are integrated within communities. A new assessment method should allow the examination of integrated technology effects on communities through an analysis of important community features. To assess digital communities a framework consisting of five headings was developed. The framework allows the effects of technologies to be examined across a range of communities. Taking a convergent methodologies approach five studies were undertaken covering a range of technologies and media integration issues. The results suggest that digital communities are groups of people using technology to support their social interaction needs. Media use within digital communities is heavily integrated and the social needs of community members drive technology use. Designers should provide communities with flexible technology that permits integration and member adaptation.