The way of all communities?

There I was, in the middle of a lecture on internet communities, and my next click was to the directories page of Excite's communities. I admit that I hadn't checked my links, but since I'd delivered the same lecture two weeks earlier, I didn't really feel that I needed to.

But after my click I didn't meet the page I've visited numerous times in the past, a continually growing list of, as I referred to them then, "communities of one". Instead I met an announcement that Excite had decided to discontinue those same communities.

As the connecting page (and of course my copy) explained, it wasn't exactly that there was no longer any interest in these communities, but instead that the services that the communities offered were now available elsewhere within the excite site. Of course as I understood it back then, the reason for these communities was less to have access to certain services (a photo album, a place to chat) than to establish contact with other people who expressed an interest in what interested us, and then to make use of those services to make that contact meaningful. So maybe I was right. One thing is for sure: a re-examination of the evolution (and devolution?) of these communities certainly seems to be a topic for a future column.

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