Code begets community


This is the homepage of Daniel Pargman's Ph.D. thesis, "Code begets community: On social and technical aspects of managing a virtual community". This page contains some basic facts. More info or questions about the thesis should be directed directly at Daniel Pargman,

Dissertation facts

The research - 3 1/2 years of studies of a Swedish-speaking mud/virtual community - was conducted at an interdisciplinary graduate school of communication studies, the Department of Communication Studies (Tema Kommunikation) at Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, Linköping University, Sweden.

The dissertation took place December 14, 2000 at Linköping University, Sweden. Steve Jones, Professor and Head of the Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago was the opponent (


The thesis is printed (in a limited edition) by Linköping University, Sweden. The picture at the top of this page illustrates the front cover of the thesis. The thesis is 320 pages long (266 pages without references, appendices etc.).

"Code begets community" contains 10 chapters:


Since the thesis is currently under review by a publishing house, the decision has been taken not to make the whole thesis accessible on the world wide web at the moment. Only the table of contents, the first chapter and the last chapter can currently be downloaded (see below). This might be changed at a later point. A hard copy of the Ph.D. thesis can also be ordered.

Order info

The cost of ordering a printed copy of the thesis is 220 SEK (approximately 22 US$). That price includes postage. The thesis can be ordered from:

Lotta Strand
Department of Communication Studies, Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping, Sweden.
Phone: +46 13 28 21 94
Fax: +46 13 28 22 99


Download pdf file of table of contents (48 KB).
Download pdf file of chapter 1, "Introduction" (124 KB).
Download pdf file of chapter 10, "Communities in cyberspace" (112 KB).

Now the entire thesis is available online!

Thesis abstract



What is reality beyond the hype of virtual communities on the Internet? This Ph.D.thesis is based on three and a half years of studies in a Swedish-speaking adventure mud - a text-based virtual reality system. The focus is not primarily on the players, but on the administrators and on the work to make this virtual community work.

A point of departure is that that SvenskMud can be seen as many things at the same time: a game, a computer program and a hobby. SvenskMud is an expression of a partisan, grass-roots initiative. It is not endorsed or supported by a powerful organization. All work is voluntary and unpaid and all usage is free. The values that SvenskMud endorse are the values of its creators and guardians - not of vendors who try to please an audience at any cost.

An important characteristic of virtual communities is that social concerns become difficult to separate from technical practices. Social and technical issues interact and co-evolve in such intimate ways that they often merge in a mud. Management of the social system is done through computer code. During specific and favorable conditions, such computer code can indeed beget community. It is these circumstances that this work attempts to elucidate.

Daniel Pargman is a researcher at a Swedish company in the mobile Internet business. He currently develops user-centered scenarios to explore and harness future uses of mobile and ubiquitous computing power. His background is in computer and systems sciences, human-computer interaction and the social sciences.

Daniel Pargman