Virtual Spaces as Third Places

The concept of third places is a new one to me. Thanks to Konard for blogging about Classrooms as Third Places and providing some useful links.

Third Places Oldenburg suggests that beer gardens, main streets, pubs, cafes, coffeehouses, post offices, and other third places are the heart of a community’s social vitality and the foundation of a functioning democracy. They promote social equality by leveling the status of guests, provide a setting for grassroots politics, create habits of public association, and offer psychological support to individuals and communities.

Oldenburg identifies that in modern suburban societies time is primarily spent in isolated first (home) and second (work) places. In contrast, third places offer a neutral public space for a community to connect and establish bonds. Third places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.”

While both Konrad and Oldenburg identify physical spaces as third places, I wonder whether a virtual spaces (blogosphere, facebook like social communities) can be considered third places too? They definitely “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings”.

2 thoughts on “Virtual Spaces as Third Places”

  1. i have found the open spaces theory also very useful.
    this is based on the premise that mroe learning happens through informal, direct interactions – in conferences or offices – during tea breaks or other ouside-the-lecture sessions.
    http://www.openspaceworld.org would be a good starting point.

  2. I agree. I think we do not track the informal learning that we do even while we are studying. In real life, it is a lot more than we realize. Thank you for the link to openspaceworld.

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