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The Arc and the MachineNarrative and New Media$
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Caroline Bassett

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780719073427

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719073427.001.0001

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Annihilating all that's made? Legends of virtual community

Annihilating all that's made? Legends of virtual community

Chapter:
(p.128) 4 Annihilating all that's made? Legends of virtual community
Source:
The Arc and the Machine
Author(s):

Caroline Bassett

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719073427.003.0005

The chapter explores a virtual community as a history of a particular kind of space, one that is made of words and to a far lesser extent images, but that is more fundamentally to be understood as carved out of code. The opening section draws on Lefebvre to explore virtual space as a social production. It then turns to the Internet itself, reading its history, and within that the history of virtual community, as the history of space. It is argued that virtual community is synecdochal for the early Internet and its values, and that these values continue to attach to virtual communities even while discrete productions of community increasingly fail to instantiate them. The third section focuses on the spatial production of GeoCities, which is also understood in narrative terms. It draws out what the sense of virtual community operational in GeoCities takes from earlier models and how the phrase itself might operate as an ideologeme. This may demonstrate the degree to which processes of contradictory integration mean that ‘virtual community’ has been at once valorized and remade. If the new commercial model of GeoCities is operationalized partly through its appeal to ‘virtual community’, read as a guarantor of the persistence of human communion within an increasingly automated world, this also tends to mask the underlying logic of the Cities, which concerns the production of narrative space as a commodity.

Keywords:   virtual community, Lefebvre, social production, Internet, GeoCities, space

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