Title: When the web supports communities of place: the 'Social Street' case in Italy

Authors: Federico Cabitza; Rosantonietta Scramaglia; Denise Cornetta; Carla Simone

Addresses: Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Viale Sarca 336, 20126 Milano, Italy ' Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione – IULM, Via Carlo Bo 1, 20143 Milano, Italy ' Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Viale Sarca 336, 20126 Milano, Italy ' Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Viale Sarca 336, 20126 Milano, Italy

Abstract: In this paper, we present a user study based on a series of questionnaire-based surveys that we aimed at understanding the role of general social media, like popular social networking sites, in promoting the creation and evolution of network communities of place, specifically in the urban domain. We analysed hundreds of responses that we had collected in two questionnaire-based studies which involved 4,599 respondents all together. Since not all the respondents answered the same questions, we collected at least 129 and at most 2,750 responses for each item depending on the items considered. The main findings regard a novel 'attitude to exchange' score, the correlations between this score and other items and scores of interest, among which validated scores for the concept of 'sense of community', bonding 'social capital' and 'trust'; and the discriminating and facilitating factors affecting this attitude. We then relate the findings to some implications for the design of a new class of social media that could exhibit stronger collaboration-oriented functionalities, what we dub 'convivial tools', to study their impact on the welfare of local communities and the aspirations of their members in this time of economic hardship.

Keywords: Social Street; Facebook; social networking sites; SNSs; social media; communities of place; Italy; web based communities; virtual communities; online communities; urban domain; cities; collaboration; local communities; economic hardship; sense of community; bonding; social capital; trust.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2016.077758

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2016 Vol.12 No.3, pp.216 - 237

Received: 22 Aug 2015
Accepted: 18 Jan 2016

Published online: 14 Jul 2016 *

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