Last week at the National Pastors Convention, Shane Hipps sat down with the guys from Out of Ur and talked about community, based on his new book, Flickering Pixels. (Full disclosure: Shane is one of my very best friends — we’ve known each other for 30 years — and I am a huge fan and proponent of his book.)
But in the video (below), Shane says that “virtual community ain’t community.” John La Grou takes issue with this, using a very compelling anecdote from his experience at TED 2009 (color me jealous!!!). Money quote:
Look.. I don’t know anyone who would argue that virtual community is a substitutefor physical community. Perhaps some of us need a book to remind them.In this sense, he is a welcome voice. But, contrary to Hipps’ position,I think virtual community establishes an authentic shared identity, asense of belonging, a shared history, and a sense of permanence. Thatvirtual community cannot offer physical gathering simply restates theobvious.
I tend to agree with John on this one. I think Shane has overstated the case and thus undercut his argument (I should know, I make a living doing that! :-)). I have been amazed of late how powerful Twitter is as a medium of connection with other human beings. I have no experience with Second Life (and I don’t know that Shane does, either), but it seems to me to have that same potential. Rob Brink’s essay in Youthworker Journal last summer convinced me that online gaming even has this potential.
I don’t think this blog has (yet) fostered a community, but I think Scot has done just that at Jesus Creed. All this is dependent upon your definition of community, and Shane makes his clear in the video.
So, what say you? Is virtual community true “community”?
[UPDATE: Scot weighs in at Out of Ur.]
Video after the jump.