This chapter is concerned with two widely shared misunderstandings related to the notion of
virtual knowledge creation. First, virtual is often associated or even equated with immateriality.
As a consequence, virtual knowledge collaboration is mainly seen as a viable option in digital
knowledge domains but not in more traditional fields. Second, “virtual” is often understood as being
derived from the “real”. Virtual interaction thus is treated as a deficient substitute for
face-to-face interaction. Against this background we use data obtained from netnography undertaken
in nine virtual hybrid communities to explore more systematically the material preconditions of
virtual knowledge collaboration. We also specify specific benefits of distanciated relations in
knowledge collaboration that so far have been understated or overlooked. Our findings demonstrate
that the social cohesion of virtual communities is partly enhanced through organized forms of
co-presence and that online knowledge collaboration is embedded in material offline environments. Of
course, collaboration in virtual hybrid communities lacks the media richness and the entire spectrum
of non-verbal cues through which face-to-face encounters ease mutual understanding. Yet distinct
features of online interaction, such as quasi-anonymity, asynchronicity and virtual memory do
provide unique opportunities for collaboration unattainable in classical face-to-face contexts.
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