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Social Network Structures and the Internet: Collective Dynamics in Virtual Communitie ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Social Network Structures and the Internet:


For all information’s independence and extent, it is people, in their communities, organizations, and institutions, who ultimately decide what it all means, and why it matters.

—Brown and Duguid (2000, p. 18)

Digital information technology, as is widely documented, has truly revolutionized the environment in which consumers search for, acquire, and utilize information. The Internet, the largest network ever created by humans, enables individuals to easily reach the largest storage of information through personal computers or handy wireless communication devices, such as PDAs or cellular phones. Visiting a retail store physically is no longer the only way to see the actual look of a product or to find the detailed information about it. In this electronically networked environment, instead, consumers can easily search or browse information provided by companies, observe available products displayed in three-dimensional forms, and even customize them based on their own preferences.