Some time ago, I found myself at my father’s house, telling a wise family friend about the book I’m writing. My dad’s friend is a college professor, a real silver-bearded, elbow-patched kind of guy. And he was astounded at the notion of a web-based community.
“If it doesn’t happen in real life,” he said, “then it doesn’t happen. It’s just not real.”
“But what about the Jewish community?” I asked. “We’re not all in the same room, but it’s a community, right?”
“Sure,” he said. “But we have a shared history.”
“Okay,” I said. “So if I share history with a group of people I’ve never met, that makes it a community?”
“What if I talk with a group of people online for a few years?” I asked. “Is that a community?”
“Not if you ...