Internet Cafes - New Community Nexus?


The Main Page - A Review

Governance Structures Found in Several Different Text-Based Online Communities

Ethical and Social Problems that Arise in Online Communities

Identities and Social Interactions in MUDs

Online Gaming Communities and Their Governance Structures

The Internet is not only forming new communities online but transforming communities in the real world; Internet cafes are a prime example of the phenomena. Internet cafe has been around for almost 11 years, the first café established on September 1, 1994 in 2004 in London. Eva Pascoe, the creator of the first café was a Polish psychology student, whose homesickness drove her to reach out to her home community via the internet. She named it Cafe Cyberia, its door opened on Whitfield Street in downtown London, to caffeine drinkers and internet users alike.

The Internet café is an important topic in online governance because it demonstrates how elastic the definition of online communities is. The (London) Daily Telegraph September 1, 2004 edition sites that, “there are now more than 20,000 internet cafes across the world, with their customers using them as something close to a post office, shopping centre, newspaper and library rolled into one.” In the same article, James Bilefield, from Yahoo! elaborated on the growing roll of Internet cafes in community life, “Many internet cafes also provide an essential service for the community and, in the developing world, a place where people can learn from the internet and communicate with others around the globe.”

Are Internet cafes ‘online communities’? They definitely fit the description of group of individuals drawn together for a common purpose, and they are most assuredly online in the sense of connected to the internet. We believe Internet cafes are online communities thus an import direction that governance of online communities need to be developed. Communities need to regulate not only in the content that they produce but the physical means of sustaining these communities requires some acknowledgment of responsibilities. How far that regulation needs to go is an issue that continues to be debating in the broader debate of online community governance. If a internet café worker sees a customer hacking, or committing copyright infringement, do he have a responsibility to report the offense? Or is the fact this happening online mean the crime in not in the café worker’s vicinity and not his responsibility? This is one of many interesting questions our research has raised.