and Using Web Interactive Databases
What are they?
On-line communities exist on the Internet and include
the people you e-mail and who e-mail you back, distribution
lists on your e-mail client, forums and chat rooms,
workgroups that share information, and many others.
On-line communities share many of the characteristics of
traditional communities, but they also possess unique
Penetration is the degree to which the Internet
has been incorporated into a community. Colleges and
Universities are highly penetrated and poor, rural
households are not. Estimates of Internet penetration in SW
Arkansas range from 15 to 35 percent penetration. In
contrast, penetration in cities like San Francisco may
exceed 60 percent.
The digital divide is a relatively new metaphor
describing the growing distance between technological haves
and have-nots. As technology becomes more important in daily
life, that distance will either shrink or disappear, or a
polarized society will emerge.
Getting the on-line habit is another problem.
Even long-time users of the Internet are often lax about
checking or answering their e-mail. Before an on-line
community can work effectively, its members must be
experienced in the use of technology and willing to use
Older methods may, in fact, be better sometimes.
Before going to an on-line community approach, you should
evaluate the older ways of accomplishing the same goals.
Distribution of xerox copies by mail, telephoning, or simply
publishing a want ad may all be more efficient and cheaper
methods for distributing information and creating community.
Do not assume that the Internet is always the best way.
Assess your local situation. What is the degree of
penetration? What other methods might work better?
If you decide to use an on-line method, should it be
static or dynamic? Also, will interactivity be an issue? If
so, how will you deal with it?
Where will you set the technology threshold for use of
While academic communities are typically well
penetrated, a great deal of variation exists among its
members in their technological expertise and willingness to
Students are now the group most willing to use
technology. Also, because of the structure of the academy,
they can be easily required to use it.
Administrators are also relatively willing and
able users of technology because of the longer history of
technology in the administration and management of colleges
Faculty show the most diversity in the use of
technology. Some are enthusiastic adopters and users, a few
refuse technology nearly in its entirety, and most are
capable but not expert users of technology.
In the examples to follow, a FileMaker Pro database
solution applicable to each of these communities will be
demonstrated and discussed.