This September I will be going back to Oxford to do a DPhil. I will study the appearance of critical mass in budding on-line political communities.
Online communities can greatly impact society, as the recent events in the Middle East, and the rise of global online social movements such as Occupy Wallstreet, suggest. But in order to thrive, and become a community at all, online communities have to attain a critical mass of initial users. The central problem of which is that until a certain number of participants are present, joining the community is not going to affect outcomes, or be socially rewarding to newcomers.
Also, more in general, the exact factors that determine growth in the early stages of online communities, are still ill understood. Even internet giant Google has failed to attain critical mass for some of its platforms, such as Google Wave. ...read more