Also see: latitude and longitude page
I have come to a definition of an online community that is the best I can think of: People who share a common time for a purpose. This is broad enough to include all communities from a collection of individuals to a formalized group.
One myth about the web is that it is instantaneous. Yes, it is from one machine to another, but messages are not recieved and processed and responded to by humans instantaneously everywhere on the globe. The limitations of personal time zone have a very great impact upon how we can percieve "global community".
The web is global but not in a spherical sense. The distance between any two longitudes (meridians) determines the frequency of message cycles. Global community only exists where the frequency of message cycles allows enough communication to form a community. The longitude that runs down through Sweden, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Libya, Chad, Republic of South Africa, Congo, Zaire, Angola, Nambia and South Africa is global with the web. Frequency of messaging is highest where any two given longitudes are closest together. Message frequency lowers as the distance between two longitudes increases.
So if we traveled the same distance described on a latitude either from East to West or visa versa, we could not call it global community. The latitude that runs from Spain to China is not a global community in the same sense as those based within a relatively narrow time zone because those who live within two longitudes that are closer together can have a greater message cycle frequency, exchanging multitudes of messages in one day, while those who are exchanging within an equal latitude may have a frequency as low as one cycle per 24 hours.
When I speak of time zones and geography, I am using this as a visual reference. Someone working the night shift in Spain would span the divide to China. So, in this blog, my constant references to time zones and geographical location is only a hint or pointer that must be translated into personal time zones.