TOWARDS QUANTITATIVE TOOLS FOR
ANALYSING QUALITATIVE PROPERTIES
OF VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES
Duje BonacciPhysical Chemistry department, Ruer Boakovi Institute
Received: 10. May, 2004. Accepted: 3. November, 2004.
During the last decade, the advance of Internet has enabled the emergence of previously nonexistent type of human social structures - virtual 'online' communities. As compared to the traditional communities, online communities are distinguished by the drastic reduction of the requirement for the physical proximity and geographical clustering of their members. The primary cause of this shift away from physically concentrated communities to dispersed virtual ones is new long distance communication tools that Internet has provided. Along with the increase in quantity of communication that the new technology brought about, it also strongly influenced its quality. The paper suggests two simple mathematical tools for analysing the soft (qualitative) sociological internal properties of virtual communities. The suggested tools are applied and their utility discussed on the example of one such virtual community, Croatian NGO Society znanost.org .
mailing list analysis, online communities, scale-free distribution, quantitative analysis of qualitative properties, social energy
Full paper as pdf version.