David Silver, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco, says he likes when a project has a beginning, a middle, and an end. By announcing on his blog the shuttering of the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, a Web site dedicated to Internet studies, Mr. Silver has brought perhaps one of his biggest projects through that entire cycle.
“RCCS has served its course,” he says. “It used to be hard to find communities online, and now there are opportunities all around for young and old scholars to find and be a part of a group on the Internet.”
Mr. Silver started the Web site in 1996 as a virtual space for academics to gather and discuss the burgeoning field of Internet studies.
“In those days, one would be lucky to find a single panel on ‘cyberspace or the ‘World Wide Web’ at an academic conference or to find a single article in an academic journal,” he writes on his blog.
One of the major functions of the site was as a place to review books within the field. The site emphasized the importance of multiple points of view, both by having more than one review per book and by giving the author of the book a space to respond.
Mr. Silver says he wants to end the project not only because the Internet has evolved into a place with multiple communities that serve similar functions but also because his interests now lie elsewhere.
“Academics are encouraged to focus on one topic and dig deeply into it for their entire career,” he says. “But I believe in working deeply on something until you find a new project to focus on.”
Next, Mr. Silver says, he hopes to develop another kind of community, one that emphasizes sustainable food in the age of Web 2.0. Hoping to foster a community of “gardeners, farmers, cooks, and eaters,” Mr. Silver says he wants to create something like a “back-to-the-earth movement, but with social media.”