The network communities of SeniorNet
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands
With the explosion of participation on the Internet, there is increasing interest and speculation in extending its' uses to support diverse online communities, and particular interest in using the Internet to combat loneliness and isolation amongst senior citizens For the past year, we have been investigating SeniorNet (SN), a 12 year old organization that attempts to bring seniors together via computer networking technologies. We found a rich tapestry of human relationships supported by various technical and social underpinnings. In this' paper, we delve into the richness of an active community and describe the intertwining technical and social factors that make it valuable and useful for its members. An underlying question in these discussions is "If network communities have to be principally created and maintained by their members (as we posit), then how do designers help without getting in the way? "