Are blogs a new form of virtual community?

Dr. Anita Blanchard has published a preliminary analysis of a proposition that blogs may be a new form of virtual community, based on a studio of the Julie/Julia Project Salon blog:

This research provides an initial look into the complicated topic of blogs as virtual communities. For many readers, the Julie/Julia Project is simply an entertaining, interactive web page with humorous insights into cooking, working in New York, and the mind of its well-liked author. But for the others who accessed and participated in its more interactive feature, this blog also serves as a virtual community.

We can conclude that blogs, even very popular ones, are not inherently virtual communities despite the large number of people reading them. It is the interactive features in which the blog author and the readers interact with each other that contribute to feelings of community. It is expected that blogs that meet the interests of their readers as well as provide opportunities for the readers to interact will be regarded by their interacting members as virtual communities.

Dr. Blanchard plans to write up the final results from this project as an essay for a book entitled Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture due out in Spring or Summer 2004.