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Is there room for community in social networks?

Media release

The internet has historically been seen as suited to the development of online communities, but a leading social media expert is questioning the degree of ‘real’ online community interaction today. 

Professor Matthew Allen, Head of Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University, will address online community managers from across the country at the swarm Conference in Melbourne on Thursday 13 September about the changing nature of online community interaction.

Professor Allen said online communities have changed substantially in the past 20 years.

“The last two decades have seen the emergence of a different kind of engagement between individual and collective users and building a sense of ‘community’ is now a more uncertain outcome,” Professor Allen said.

“Communities online used to have very close bonds between members and were similar to the close-knit communities found in physical space. Now, interactions between people through online social networks tend to be more individual and less collective.

“Communities with strong bonds are hard to find. If we want to create social movements to change and improve our world we actually need to work harder than ever to create these movements online.”

Professor Allen will speak about the differences and connections between communities and networks, media and movements, and individual and group uses of the internet.

swarm is Australia’s only online community management conference, and it is aimed at connecting professional community managers and facilitating the sharing of resources, best practice, information and ideas.

Professor Allen has been active in research and education for more than a decade. He has been President of the International Association of Internet Researchers, and is an advocate for the importance of social and cultural applications of new network technologies.


Professor Matthew Allen, Curtin Head of Department of Internet Studies
Tel: (08) 9266 3511, Email:

Venessa Paech, Co-Founder and Chair swarm – Australia’s Online Community Management Conference
Tel: 0435 217 315, web:, Twitter: @swarmconf or @venessapaech

Kate Selth, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 3353, Email:    


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