In urban residential environments in Australia and other developed countries, internet access is on the verge of becoming a ubiquitous utility like gas or electricity. From an urban sociology and community informatics perspective, this paper discusses new emerging social formations of urban residents that are based on networked individualism and the potential of internet-based systems to support them. It proposes that one of the main reasons for the disappearance or non-existence of urban residential communities is a lack of appropriate opportunities and instruments to encourage and support local interaction in urban neighbourhoods. The paper challenges the view that a mere re-appropriation of applications used to support dispersed virtual communities is adequate to meet the place and proximity-based design requirements that community networks in urban neighbourhoods pose. It argues that the key factors influencing the successful design and uptake of interactive systems to support social networks in urban neighbourhoods include the swarming social behaviour of urban dwellers, the dynamics of their existing communicative ecology, and the serendipitous, voluntary and place-based quality of interaction between residents on the basis of choice, like-mindedness, mutual interest and support needs. Drawing on an analysis of these factors, the conceptual design framework of a prototype system – the ‘urban tribe incubator’ – is presented
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