Today online communities as we know it has became a huge way of communicating with others. In the 1970s when the Internet was created by ARPAnet E-Mail was created. Although, basic E-Mail allowed for user interaction as one could send and recieve messages. “Message Boards” were soon built into email or websites allowing for others to create a string of content that others can respond to. Message boards are quite common even today allowing for a user to interact with others on one topic. Interactions are in the form of message strings that other users are also able to see.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed in 1988 by Jarkko Okarinen was one of the early Instant Messengers. Popular in the 90’s Instant Messaging started to occur. Both users had to be online; and could send each other short messages instantly. This later emerged into AOL Instant Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger.
Today online communities are built off of the innovations that we had in the past. Users that are participating in communities have increased steadily in recent years. Back in a 2001 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, 84% of all Internet users indicated that they contacted an online community and 79% identified at least one group with which they maintained regular online contact. Due to user increases many communities have sprung up in recent years that may relate to user interest, health, shopping and even travel.
Sites like TripAdvisor are an example of an online community where users are able to post photos, comments, and links about a particular place. People who do post about their experiences get responses from a manager or other appointed user. There are also interest communities such as WebMD a community relating to health and wellness. Users are able to get health advice, and learn about news and other resources available to them.
Facebook and Twitter today are two types of platforms that allow users to customize a profile and communicate with others. Facebook has incorporated many great features that were popular in the past into its site. Users can instant message; email and make their Facebook unique with a profile picture (avatar).Twitter allows for an avatar and almost encompasses a forum feature but instead lets users write a post on a news feed of 120 characters.
Online communities today would be drastically different if it were not for many of the previous developments on the web with features such as email, forums, and instant messaging.