How to create mixed offline-online community spaces? A behavioural science position paper
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014.Humans are exceptionally social, irrespective whether they are online or offline, a trait that is present in every society, irrespective of cultural variation. Both urban planners and evolutionary anthropologist have long recognized that the more frequently we have meaningful social contact with the members of our social network, the closer we feel to them, and the stronger our communities end up. The received wisdom in sociology is that communities fall apart when members of the community get involved in the majority of their social life outside the group, a phenomenon that has been thought to automatically happen with the rise of new online sociality-servicing technologies. However, in internet- based social networking most online interaction is local, supplementing rather than replacing local off-line interaction. Furthermore, much of dyadic interaction online is essentially identical to its offline nature, despite the fact that the manifestation can radically differ. Yet, it is very difficult to generate lasting online communities which are truly online only. Online communities tend to be similar to offline hobby clubs in their structure, and in almost all cases that are to last, after a while the need emerges to meet off-line. In these occasions people usually choose to engage in natural group bonding activities that release endorphins and create social bond in a literally natural way. As a consequence, current day human societies are heading towards social existence in which they are neither entirely off-line, but nor are entirely online. An integrated design for urban and digital sociality space would allow the natural rise of healthy and robust human communities.