Building An Online Community In The Context Of An Existing Social Network Site
Faculty of Education And Arts
School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : LP0990807
This paper compares the characteristics of the Purple Boot Brigade, a social network for supporters of Breast Cancer Care WA, with the characteristics of Breast Cancer Click, an online community. Whereas online communities might be conceptualised as relatively flat structures, in which membership is developed as a result of time spent online and in communication with fellow members, a social network can be seen as hierarchical, where members invite their face-to face colleagues and friends to join with them in online activities. In the case of this research it was hoped that the two environments would offer different benefits and exhibit complementary and mutually-supportive characteristics. The Purple Boot Brigade is a well-established social network site which espouses consciousness-raising, education and sponsorship to develop knowledge and awareness of breast cancer in its many forms. However, this social network had a number of drawbacks when it came to supporting people with breast cancer. Hence it was decided to establish Breast Cancer Click as an online community where people with breast cancer could seek support. This paper interrogates the contemporary challenges of building an online community, even with the benefit of a pre-existing social network site.