Menegon, Francesca and D'Andrea, Vincenzo (2004) Social Processes and Technology in an Online Community of Practices. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
What is the role of technology in an on-line community of practices ? How is the technology used and perceived in the construction of a community ? In this paper we will try to answer these questions by means of the study of a self-help community. We choose a community that has no off-line counterpart – in fact the topic of the community is a mental health care problem known as social anxiety disorder (or social phobia). A person affected by social phobia has great difficulty in attending ordinary social events, but the participation in the on-line community is not seen as a problem by the members. This very peculiar kind of on-line community allows us to study interaction mediated only by technological tools, such as a web site, a forum, a chat. We describe in the paper the various dimensions of the practices in use within the community, focusing in particular on the learning process undergone by new members when they enter the community.
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