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Unread 12-19-2005, 04:59 PM
tpollard tpollard is offline
Seorak Sender
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 13
Is KOTR really a community?....

The other day, I contacted Eric about using KOTR as a topic for a paper I’m writing about how online websites are changing the way we define the idea of “community”. Recently, there has been a lot of controversy over whether virtual websites are able to install a sense of “community” because they don't possess all the traditional dimensions of “real” communities, such as direct relationships among its members.

I’m interested to see how you, as fellow members of KOTR, feel about whether or not you are participating in a shared community? Do you feel a strong sense of identification with other members, and do you feel it’s possible to develop meaningful relationships online even though you might never meet?

I look forward to reading your postings on this topic, and I hope that your replies will also help Eric continue to improve this awesome website.

Last edited by tpollard : 12-19-2005 at 10:33 PM.
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Unread 12-19-2005, 08:50 PM
skinsk's Avatar
skinsk skinsk is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Jochiwon (Sejong City)
Posts: 2,552
I don't know much about on-line communities in general, just KOTR. The appeal here is that we all climb, an activity which generally requires 2 people. In 1998-2000, I rarely saw foreign climbers, and generally never more than once. Also, information in English was limited to a Korean-Konglish guide to Kan-hyon. KOTR is a way to meet other climbers and share information.

For me, it would be pointless to have a "climbing community" without real contact. On the other hand, the foreign climbing community in Korea is widely dispersed, and it would be hard to get together and make plans. I've climbed with over 2 dozen people on this site, met several others and have PMed back and forth with several others, usually in response to a question or appeal for information.

To sum up, KOTR is not so much a "community" as a way to unite a community. I can't imagine it's interest or usefulness to someone who is not a climber and not in Korea!
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
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Unread 12-20-2005, 03:46 PM
bvoborsky's Avatar
bvoborsky bvoborsky is offline
John Wayne never wore Lycra
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Gangnam, Seoul
Posts: 25
I would have to say KOTR is a community in the sense that it supplies information and shares ideas with a "real" community. Back in 1999 it took you and I forever to track down a gym not to mention crags. But once in with the Korean climbing community that changed to some extent. As KOTR has grown it has developed into a great source of information for people and in that sense a community has been established. With the forums expanding more of a community identity is forming through increased interaction. The community is a small target group of foreign climbers in Korea. If anyone foreign is planning on coming to Korea or is in Korea and wants to climb they come to KOTR. They can contact this community to get in with the real community or at least get out on real rock. I don't know whether it is because I had/have a good community of real climbing partners or finding a series of guidebooks to all of korea that I find myself not visiting this community as much.

I feel a sense of identification with other members in the fact that we are all climbers and to some extent we are all in the same boat here. If I bump into a foreigner at the crag a bond is formed. Not only being a climber but being foreign. Our community is a niche within a niche.

I am sure you can develop some sort of relationship online if enough communication transpires. I have given loads of advice about climbing trips and travel throughout Asia to people I have never met and I do feel meaningful relationships have developed in a sense. They have shared similiar experiences with me, taken the same shitty buses, nailed the same routes, taken the same pictures, or whatever. In saying that if I ever have a chance to meet a person I will.

Hope my ramblings help
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Unread 12-21-2005, 01:15 AM
kigga34 kigga34 is offline
pebble wrestler
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Seoul
Posts: 28
yeah it's a community. i found all the gyms i went to on here, plus everyone seems pretty cool. and there IS the opportunity to meet ppl on here and form a relationship, climbing-related or no, so in regards to forming a community, what really needs to be determined is how many ppl it takes to form a community. this is, after all, for a paper i'm assuming you're writing for undergrad/grad school. what u need to do is determine the criteria and the what is quantifiable or not, then from there, we can tell u whether we are or aren't.

in my honest opinion, i think we are. i'm just workin on someone to show me how to ice climb. *hint hint*
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Unread 12-21-2005, 06:50 AM
bhylenski bhylenski is offline
Currently a "Gyeongsonian"
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Gyeongsan (Daegu)
Posts: 150
Not a community

I believe this website/forum acts more as a tool for the community, not as the community. It helps join members of a particular interest group, in this case climbing, but should not act as a community. When we start defining our communities as online chat groups we sell ourselves short and replace the human aspect of a community with the shallowness of a keyboard.

This and so many other websites are great tools. But, I think everyone would agree that the strength of this forum is the people behind the keyboards, the people developing the routes, climbing the crags and setting up outings for the community to climb together.

Come on people lets remember who we are, the minute we become our HANDLES, we are nothing more then a message on the screen. I for one am more then a message on a screen and most of the people I have chatted with and discussed issues with on this website are more then just the opinions they leave on these posts!

Great post KOTR, look forward to more of the same. Climbing is great, but we can't talk about it 24/7, well at least I don't desire too!
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Unread 12-21-2005, 09:24 AM
curious_j's Avatar
curious_j curious_j is offline
This Guy That's Me
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: No Longer In Korea
Posts: 45
Answers.com defines community this way:

1. a. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government.
b. The district or locality in which such a group lives.
2. a. A group of people having common interests: the scientific community; the international business community.
b. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society: the gay community; the community of color.
3. a. Similarity or identity: a community of interests.
b. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.
4. Society as a whole; the public.
5. Ecology...

1. Persons as an organized body.
2. The people who live in a particular place or region and usually are linked by some common interests.

By these definitions I think we're a community. We are part of the foreign climbing community. We live in the ROK and our common interest is sending.

However, social scientists have more criteria for determining "community" and quality of communities. That I will leave to tpollard.

I have mental instabilities that lead to addictive behaviors, ergo 24/7 climbing is A-OK with me. KOTR is my 12-Step support group. And that's community. You write PMs to me. I post comments. You provide info. I listen. I've met a few of you. I'd like to meet more. I talk big about balance, but talk is cheap.

Obviously (really, it is obvious) I have gobs of friends that I see more frequently than KOTR members, but no community is, or should be, fully exclusive (except maybe the Crips). We have overlapping circles of communities. KOTR is one of mine. I would have a 1-dimensional life if KOTR were my only community, but the same is true if my office were my only social sphere.

We had a meet-n-greet (which I missed). We climb together. We travel together. We eat together. We shop together. We spray together (umm). We laugh together. We cry together like little children. Hallmark Christmas Special, really.

I think we have more personal interaction than some website groups. Maybe there are 3 types of communities--traditional (clubs/neighborhoods), online, and hybrid. KOTR is kind of hybrid to me; it mixes elements of both.

The people of KOTR form a community in my mind. KOTR.com is the tool to facilitate these relationships and the sharing of info. We should all give Eric a collective e-hug (and maybe a piton for Christmas).

And the only present I want for Christmas is for Eric to get the Banff Mountain Film Festival to bring their road show to Korea. The Rocky Mountain Tavern & KOTR could be co-sponsors. That would, scientifically speaking, make our community complete.
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Unread 12-21-2005, 01:33 PM
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shoegazer shoegazer is offline
( . )( . )
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: chonghak-ri the base of Suraksan
Posts: 13
I personally do not view this as a community. I guess if there were a butt load of people here and a chat room, then maybe. I played an online game for a few years and was part of a "team". It was kinda silly, people would get into arguments, 2 people met and got married, they had several msg boards filled with everything from talk of their sick kids to a guy going to jail. I dont see this hapening here. I use it like someone said earlier as a tool for getting info. If I happen to meet some of you somewhere then that would be nice. I would not get my feelings hurt or post a bunch of nonsense if someone said something I didnt agree with. This isnt a forum for political or social commentary. Its just a bunch of ppl that love to climb. Take it for whats its worth.
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Unread 12-22-2005, 01:25 AM
tpollard tpollard is offline
Seorak Sender
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 13
I think your responses to my post have been pretty interesting so far. I made the initial question kind of open-ended since I was trying to invoke a lot of different viewpoints. I do agree that it all depends on how an individual defines a ‘community’.

For my paper, I will be analyzing the written data made available through the KOTR discussion archives. Since written data is also a form of discourse, I will be investigating how KOTR is in itself a discourse community. John Swales, a prominent linguist, defines a discourse community according to the following six criteria.

1. A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals.
2. A discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members
3. A discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback.
4. A discourse community utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims.
5. In addition to owning genres, a discourse community has acquired some specific lexis.
6. A discourse community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise.

Now that I’ve narrowed down the scope a bit, how do you feel KOTR fulfills each of these ideals? Does this change your thinking in anyway?
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Unread 12-22-2005, 11:29 AM
punchy's Avatar
punchy punchy is offline
stone samurai
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: sokcho, gangwan-do
Posts: 73
1. A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals.
-we most likely all share a very specific set of common goals: to find the best routes in korea and to send them. granted, given the spectrum of memebers and interests outside of climbing, we can allow a more general manifesto: to make the most of our time in korea by participating in the things we enjoy the most. being non-native speakers, the information isn't always easily available, hence the need for a community like kotr. a means of diffusion of knowledge via a base of stored and shared information. personally, i came here for the free food. i'm still waiting.

2. A discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members
-we have pms, messenger, yahoo, icq, emailing, forwarding, handphoning, posting, ranting, and the odd get together. eric has yet to install the "tin-can call punchy" feature.

3. A discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback.
-some of the information shared may not be directly aligned with our specific common shared goals (ie:to find primo routes and to send them), but they often provide useful information in other areas . if memebers want to know where they can eat vegetarian food in korea, where there's mountain biking, what music everyone listens to, what everyone thinks of kotr as a "community," etc, the means to do so is there. ...err, here.

4. A discourse community utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims.
-i think i already conceded this. kotr not only has a variety of topics in which people are interested in discussing, but also a varity of methods by which to do so.

5. In addition to owning genres, a discourse community has acquired some specific lexis.
-we are specialists when it comes to boggling the unitiated with insiders lingo. "yo, g. at the crux you gotta grab the crimpy undercling before moving into that pumpy gaston. dyno to the sloper and don't peel or you're gonna deck. now send it." O_o

6. A discourse community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise.
-this one i'm uncertain about. is there a threshold to the number of members kotr can have? the degree of relevance so far has been fairly good. some posts may go off the topic of climbing, but they never stray far from mosts climbers' broader interests. and as for discoursal expertise... well that's why curious j is around.
the way i see it, there are two worlds: the world where nothing is sacred except money, and the other world, where everything is sacred.

-ron kauk
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Unread 12-22-2005, 10:15 PM
ricardo's Avatar
ricardo ricardo is offline
Aggressive Sheep
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Okinawa
Posts: 628
I think the fact that skinsk is posting from Austria and Peaches is posting after recently leaving Korea says alot about the sense of community that can be achieved through this site.
With that said, I don't necessarily believe that KOTR is a community, but rather provides a vehicle for a community to connect. I found this site while contemplating a job offer in Kunsan and knowing that there were others here like me and (more importantly) knowing that I would have the opportunity to connect with them made the offer much more appealing. I met someone on my base through this site that I never would have met otherwise...and through her I met other quality folk (Ganhyon and elsewhere). I met another that I have spent many weekends climbing, talking, and meeting even more fine people. Both are now good, lasting friends. I've really enjoyed meeting others from this site; it's just unfortunate that we meet up so seldom.
I do feel a strong sense of identification with other members of this board b/c they share similar passions; more so than the average person I meet on base and around town. I do have to say, I've met some folks from my and other bases that are really down to earth and are a lot of fun to hang out with.
Again, I do feel like this is a shared community, but the meaningful relationships will only come with personal interaction. A post that takes a while to write out (like this one) doesn't give others the insight into personality, etc. as much as communicating face to face.
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