Agres, Carol, Magid Igbaria, and Dana Edberg. (1997). The Virtual Society: Forces and Issues. The Information Society: An International Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2.
This paper presents a conceptual research framework for investigating virtual societies. As this subject area is relatively new to the research world, this paper presents a framework for studying virtual societies. To date, much of the relevant research has been in the area of telecommuting or teleworking. But, the changes to peoples' lives that may be a result of the movement to virtual societies encompass far more than alterations to the way we perform work in the future. The framework portrays the driving forces and the issues related to the study of this ensuing societal form. A review of the driving forces and issues of the virtual society stimulated the development of the research framework. It identifies technology as the enabler that is paving the way for society to be transformed to virtual communities, but does not dwell solely on the technology. Our endeavors focus on identifying the critical forces and issues within a global context in order to provide a foundation for future research.
Agres, C., D. Edberg, and M. Igbaria. (April-June 1998). Transformation to Virtual Societies: Forces and Issues. The Information Society, 14, No. 2, p. 71-82.
This article presents a conceptual research framework for investigating virtual societies. As this subject area is relatively new to the research world, this paper presents a framework for studying virtual societies. To date, much of the relevant research has been in the area of telecommuting or teleworking, but the changes to people's lives that may be a result of the movement to virtual societies encompass far more than alterations to the way we perform work in the future. The framework portrays the driving forces and the issues related to the study of this ensuing societal form.
A review of the driving forces and issues of the virtual society stimulated the development of the research framework. It identifies technology as the enabler that is paving the way for society to be transformed into virtual communities, but does not dwell solely on the technology. Our endeavors focus on identifying the critical forces and issues within a global context in order to provide a foundation for future research.
Anderson, Terry, and Heather Kanuka. (Sep 1997). On-Line Forums: New Platforms for Professional Development and Group Collaboration. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 3.
This study evaluated the output, level of participation and perceptions of effectiveness and value among participants in a virtual forum. Twenty-three experts in the field of adult education and community development were invited to participate in a three-week interactive session using a WWW-based, asynchronous computer conferencing system. Data gathered through surveys, interviews, transcript analysis and on-line discussion revealed that this technology has relative advantage for organizers and sponsors, but is perceived by most users as being less satisfying than face-to-face interaction. The on-line forum was found to be observable, trialable and relatively easy to use (compared with existing tools), indicating that this innovation has potential to become a widespread medium for continuing professional education.
The convergence of telecommunication and computer technologies has enabled networking of people regardless of their geographical and temporal differences. The scope of such computer networks has been expanding exponentially since the first extensive comp uter network, ARPANET, was created in 1968 by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (now DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Now its successor, Internet, comprises 1.7 million computers in more than 125 countries (Stix, 1993); most of them at universities, government agencies and companies. As such computer networks have expanded beyond the small communities of scientific researchers and been applied in a variety of fields such as education and business, communication through such computer networks is beginning to alter the ways in which people interact with one another in formal and informal ways.
Araki, I. (1998). An Approach to the Information Space and On-the-Line Interaction. International Sociological Association (ISA).
Computer networks have introduced and added various new dimensions to life and society, especially in the realm of information. Among others, the so-called virtual community being formed in information space is a crucial topic for sociological study. However, the term might be a kind of metaphor of "real community," which sociologists have long studied. If so, it is necessary to clarify its nature and difference from that of real world as a theoretical matter in sociology, and to develop appropriate ways of analyzing those phenomena as a new reality. The task here is to present a conceptual framework for approaching the information space and a method for analyzing information exchange processes and the relationships between participants in the community on the electronic network.
Arrow, Holly, Jennifer L. Berdahl, Kelly S. Bouas, Kellina M. Craig, Anne Cummings, Linda Lebie, Joseph E. McGrath, Kathleen M. O'Connor, Jonathon A. Rhoades, and Ann Schlosser. (1995- 1996). Time, Technology and Groups: An Integration. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Vol. 4, No. 2/3, p. 253-261.
A conclusion to this special journal issue (see s) comparing the relative effectiveness of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and face-to-face communication (FTF) in small work groups. The experiments reported found that communication medium had substantial and pervasive effects on the patterning of group interactions, development of group identity, establishment of participation and influence hierarchies, and the approach to and results of the group efforts. These effects changed over time, and different media effects evidenced varying patterns depending on the particular aspect of group interaction, development, and/or performance. Both CMC and FTF combined different advantages and disadvantages, and it is argued that the effectiveness of a particular communication form must be related to the specific conditions and goals of the group.
Aycock, Alan. (1995). Technologies of the Self: Foucault and Internet Discourse. Special issue, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, Vol. 1, No. 2.
While some have argued that computing via the Internet offers a vision of freedom and a shared humanity, others have claimed with equal vehemence that it may become the instrument of global surveillance and personal alienation. Foucault's notion of self-fashioning (souci de soi) exemplifies both sides of this debate, since fashions may both be imposed and freely chosen. To present a Foucauldian perspective on fashioning of self online I use instances of recent postings to the Usenet news group rec.games.chess. Key aspects of self-fashioning that I identify include romantic and modernist images of interior experience, the importance of keeping your "cool," the discussion of techniques designed to improve skill or strength, and the purchase and use of chess computers as icons of mastery. Finally, I consider some implications of this Foucauldian approach for future research on Internet self-constructions.
Bajan, P. (1998). New Communities, New Social Norms? Studia Psychologica, Vol. 40, No. 4, p. 361-366.
New information and communication technologies (ICT), like Internet, hypermedia or mobile communication, critically influence the ways we work, live, communicate or behave. The article presents research opportunities for social scientists exploring the social norms issues of human behavior as well as interesting outcomes published by Western researchers of computer mediated communication and virtual communities.
Barak, A. (Fall 1999). Psychological Applications on the Internet: A Discipline on the Threshold of a New Millennium. Applied and Preventive Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 4, p. 231-245.
The rapid developments in computers and information technology over the past decade has had an impact on psychology, which has moved in this context from local computer applications to network applications that take advantage of the Internet. This article critically reviews various psychological applications in use on the Internet, with special emphasis given to their promises and advantages as well as to their shortcomings and problems. Specifically, 10 types of psychological Internet applications are reviewed: information resources on psychological concepts and issues; self-help guides; psychological testing and assessment; help in deciding to undergo therapy; information about specific psychological services; single-session psychological advice through e-mail or e-bulletin boards; ongoing personal counseling and therapy through e- mail; real-time counseling through chat, web telephony, and videoconferencing; synchronous and asynchronous support groups, discussion groups, and group counseling; and psychological and social research. Following a discussion of ethical and related concerns, a call is voiced for intensive research and international brainstorming.
Barbatsis, Gretchen, and Kenneth Hansen. (Sept 1999). The Performance of Cyberspace: an Exploration into Computer-Mediated Reality. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 5, No. 1.
This phenomenological enquiry into cyberspace examines the concept of space and metaphor, explaining cyberspace as a figurative term and a figurative space, as something projected as a shared mental concept. Reception theory is used to theorize this figurative space as an ideational object constituted by a 'text-reader' relationship. The performance of cyberspace is described as a self-reflexive ideation about meaning making itself, and examined as discursive, liminal, and transformative. Examination includes examples from e-mail, chat, and 3D conference systems.
Barnes, Sue, and Leonore M. Greller. (April 1994). Computer-Mediated Communication in the Organization. Communication Education, Vol. 43, No. 2, p. 129-142.
Examines the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) in organizations. The introduction of CMC and CSCW applications - eg, e-mail, computer conferencing, groupware, group decision support systems, and media spaces - alters the flow of information exchange within an organization and between organizations, and creates different channels of and methods for communication. CSCW is used with electronic data interchange (EDI) to enable reproduction and manufacture of computer-aided designs. The combination of CSCW and EDI has enabled computer-aided designs to be transmitted worldwide and reproduced through computerized machinery. Other EDI applications, eg, Just-in-Time and Quick Response, have enabled the creation of electronic partnerships among suppliers, producers, distributors, and retailers. Benefits and consequences associated with the use of these technologies are discussed.
Barrett, E., and V. Lally. (Mar 1999). Gender Differences in an On-line Learning Environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 48-60.
This paper focuses upon the use of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) in a specific learning context by a small community of postgraduate (MEd) distance learners and their tutors. Content analysis of on-line dialogues was used to investigate learning and socio-emotional behaviour within this community. The data presented suggests that men and women took distinctively different roles in the on-line learning environment, Most significantly, the cognitive and metacognitive (learning) content of on-line seminar contributions by men and women was found to be similar, but their social and interactive behaviour was significantly different. In particular, it was found that within a formal on-line learning environment men sent (on average) more messages than women; they wrote messages which were twice as long as those sent my women; and made more socio-emotional contributions than women. Women, however, were found to contribute more 'interactive' messages than men. This paper concludes that the application of CMC technology to a specific learning context may reproduce Sender differences within a learning community.
Baym, Nancy K. (1995). From Practice to Culture on Usenet. Sociological Review Monograph, p. 29-52.
Usenet distributes thousands of topically oriented discussion groups, reaching millions of readers worldwide. Newsgroup participants often create distinctive subcultures, which have been all but ignored in scholarly work in computer networks and computer-mediated communication. Illustrated is how usenet discourse can operate as a culture-creating force, and how practice theory can be used to approach usenet cultures, with a deep analysis of one message in the group "rec.arts.tv.soaps." This group, which discusses TV soap operas, is one of the most prolific on usenet. The use of a single message demonstrates the potential of all usenet talk as a locus of cultural meaning. The claims made here about such meanings in rec.arts.tv.soaps are grounded in ethnographic research on this group during 1993-1995.
Baym, N. (1995). The Performance of Humor in Computer-Mediated Communication. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 1, No. 2.
There has been very little work on humor in computer-mediated communication (CMC). Indeed, the implication of some CMC work is that the medium is inhospitable to humor. This essay argues that humor can be accomplished in CMC and can be critical to creating social meaning on-line. The humor of the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.tv.soaps (r.a.t.s.), which discusses soap operas, is analyzed. The method combines user surveys with message analysis to show the prevalence and importance of humor in r.a.t.s. Close analysis of five exemplary humorous messages shows how the group's humor arises from the juxtaposition of close and distant readings of the soap opera, which place the participants in close relationships to one another, and distance them from the soap opera's writers and producers. Group solidarity is also created as participants draw extensively on previous messages to ground their own humor. Humor is also shown to be a primary mechanism for the establishment of individuality, as participants combine the shared meanings and play with the shared parameters of the group in idiosyncratic ways.
Baym, Nancy K. (1996). Agreements and Disagreements in a Computer-Mediated Discussion. Research on Language and Social Interaction, Vol. 29, No. 4, p. 315-345.
Examines agreements and disagreements in 1 computer mediated discussion group, constraining them with what is known about those activities in oral conversation and letters. This discussion group is a hybrid between mass and interpersonal communication. The medium is discussed, and agreements and disagreements in a Usenet newsgroup are examined. Group members were interviewed, and responses were collected to 2 sets of survey questions. Information about events and participants were collected, including how many people participated, how many messages there were and other macrolevel information. Results show agreements appears to be easier to perform whereas disagreement requires more strategic mitigation. Differences between the way these activities are done orally or in letters are noted. In both agreements and disagreements, quotation is ubiquitous: there were fewer secondary assessments than one might expect, and there is pervasive elaboration. Agreements further differ from their oral and epistolary counterparts in their frequent use of reasoning and qualification. Nest to quotation with reference, the most common feature of both agreements and disagreements was elaboration.
Beller, Michal, and Ehud Or. (Dec 1998). The Crossroads Between Lifelong Learning and Information Technology: A Challenge Facing Leading Universities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, No. 2.
Technology-Mediated Learning and Distance Learning (TML/TMDL), and particularly asynchronous learning through the Internet, are becoming major vehicles for fulfilling the needs of Lifelong Learning (LLL). A hybrid model of studies using technological means is leading to the development of a new pedagogy of learning and teaching. Various new models of higher education are evolving in North America and around the globe, in response to LLL needs and to the new opportunities that are becoming available through the integration of learning technologies. These models are described and discussed in this paper, for the benefit of those who are interested in or are partners to higher education, and in particular the policy makers. Traditional universities can adopt some of these models, while other models may call for the creation of new types of institutions of higher education. Most institutions will find that a joint effort is necessary for reaching the critical mass required for providing their educational system and their faculty with a generalizable, scalable and sustainable TML solution. Creating such coalitions will turn out to be a challenge in and of itself.
Berdahl, Jennifer L., and Kellina M. Craig. (1995-1996). Equality of Participation and Influence in Groups: The Effects of Communication Medium and Sex Composition. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Vol. 4, No. 2/3, p. 179-201.
The relative impact of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and face-to-face communication (FTF) on group participation and influence levels is examined in a study of seven weekly meetings of 30 FTF and 30 CMC groups, testing the effects of group communication medium and sex composition. CMC groups were perceived by participants (119 undergraduate psychology students) as more gender-centralized during the first meetings, though perceptions of the CMC and FTF groups converged during the latter six meetings. The predictions of three popular theories commonly employed to study the effects of sex composition on group interaction (proportional, expectation states, and social role theory) were tested, and results provided little support for their assumptions. Results also challenged the presumption that participation and influence are synonymous. Influence was perceived as most centralized in the CMC majority-male groups and FTF majority-female groups. In CMC groups, the minority gender was perceived as having increased influence while no such trend was observed in the FTF groups. Directions for future research are discussed.
Berthold, Michael, Fay Sudweeks, Sid Newton, and Richard Coyne. (March 1997). Clustering on the Nets: Applying an Autoassociative Neural Network to Computer-Mediated Discussions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 4.
ProjectH, a research group of a hundred researchers, produced a huge amount of data from computer mediated discussions. The data classified several thousand postings from over 30 newsgroups into 46 categories. One approach to extract typical examples from this database is presented in this paper. An autoassociative neural network is trained on all 3000 coded messages and then used to construct typical messages under certain specified conditions. With this method the neural network can be used to create "typical" messages for several scenarios. This paper illustrates the architecture of the neural network that was used and explains the necessary modifications to the coding scheme. In addition several "typicality sets" produced by the neural net are shown and their generation is explained. In conclusion, the autoassociative neural network is used to explore threads and the types of messages that typically initiate or contribute longer lasting threads.
Blanchard, A. and T. Horan. (Fall 1998). Virtual Communities and Social Capital. Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, p. 293-307.
Putnam has developed a theory of social capital to explain the effect of decreasing community participation and civic engagement on declining institutional performance. Subsequently, there has been much speculation as to whether emerging virtual communities can counteract this trend. The authors apply the findings of computer-mediated communication and virtual communities to the networks, norms, and trust of social capital and also examine the possible effects of virtual communities on the privatization of leisure time. They conclude that social capital and civic engagement will increase when virtual communities develop around physically based communities and when these virtual communities foster additional communities of interest Through a preliminary analysis, the authors identify potential communities of interest including education, exchange of general community information, and opportunities for government and political participation They conclude with a discussion of current trends and research need.
Breen, Marcus. (Sep 1997). Information Does not Equal Knowledge: Theorizing the Political Economy of Virtuality. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 3.
This paper argues that causation theory has a role in discussions about knowledge in the virtual context. Drawing on cultural studies, it suggests that the fragmentation of rational knowledge in the postmodern world has produced a focus on information that is unaware of its history. A knowledge gap has been produced that needs careful consideration by those people and institutions advocating the use of virtual technologies. Virtuality is about a politics of convenience, where contemporary knowledge is characterized by two modes of action: mathematics and marketing. The paper suggests that contemporary capitalism fits well with this type of knowledge. It argues that other ways of conceptualizing causal relationships between information-knowledge are necessary in the virtual world.
Brignall, Wells. (1999). The Internet as a Tool for a Community: Virtual Citizens and the New Technocracy. Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP).
Discussions on the Internet as a possible tool for an improved democracy have centered on using Internet technology to further the exchange of communication between citizens, the possible implications of voting online, and increased political involvement through Internet use. Focus here is on individuals having a virtual Internet town meeting. Individuals online have almost complete autonomy in many Internet areas, with little incentive to feel responsible for their actions or to the community. There is no social contract with other individuals, and because of the loss of the traditional interaction ritual, individuals lack the ability to use other valuable communication cues in understanding the tone of a conversation. Some of the possible impacts of a democratic Internet model are discussed. Since there is no model currently in use, some assumptions are made regarding how such models might develop. Some possible theoretical implications of Internet use and voting are also explored.
Bordia, Prashant. (Jan 1997). Face-to-face Versus Computer-mediated Communication: A Synthesis of the Experimental Literature. The Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 34, No. 1, p. 99-120.
The findings of published experimental studies (n equals 18) that compared face-to-face and computer-mediated communication (CMC) are synthesized. The literature is pulled together by way of 10 propositions, each presented with the supporting evidence. In general, discussions on CMC take longer, produce more ideas, and have greater equality of participation. There is reduced normative pressure and poorer comprehension of the discussion in CMC. Findings regarding quality of performance, uninhibited behavior choice shift, attitude change, and evaluation of communication partner are not definitive. Factors limiting the internal and external validity of these studies are also discussed.
Bordia, P., N. DiFonzo, and A. Chang. (Feb 1999). Rumor as Group Problem Solving: Development Patterns in Informal Computer-mediated Groups. Small Group Research, Vol. 30, No. 1, p. 8- 28.
There is a dearth of research focusing on developmental changes in computer-mediated communication groups. In this study, developmental patterns in 14 informal groups on computer- mediated networks were analyzed using the Group Development Observation System. Results indicated marked similarity between the patterns found with the CMC groups in this study and those reported in the literature on face-fo-face groups. The findings were in agreement with recent longitudinal research that has noted similarities in the two types of group communication overtime.
Bruckman, Amy. (Jan 1996). Finding One's Own Space in Cyberspace. Technology Review, Vol. 99, No. 1, p. 48-54.
In this fascinating essay, Bruckman challenges notions of Internet violence (cyberporn, sexism, flames, to name a few forms), by putting forth a number of ways to create new and diverse virtual communities. The author, a doctoral student in the M.I.T. Media Lab and founder of two virtual communities (MediaMOO and MOOSE Crossing), uses her experience as both a critic and constructor of virtual communities in order to discuss a variety of sites, including MediaMOO and the New York-based ECHO (East Cost Hang Out) bulletin board system. Drawing from her case studies, Bruckman suggests a number of elements which can help foster a communal atmosphere: user identification, active participation, and admissions policies.
Calhoun, Craig. (Summer 1998). Community without Propinquity Revisited: Communications Technology and the Transformation of the Urban Public Sphere. Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 68, No. 3, p. 373-397.
In light of recent discussions of the Internet touting "virtual community" and a capacity to enhance citizen power in democracies, a more rigorous understanding of community is sought, suggesting that relationships forged with the aid of electronic technology may do more to foster "categorical identities" than they do dense, multiplex, and systematic networks of relationships and an emphasis on community needs to be complemented by more direct attention to the social bases of discursive publics that engage people across lines of basic difference in collective identities. Previous protest movements have shown that communications media have an ambiguous mix of effects. They facilitate popular mobilization, but they also make it easy for relatively ephemeral protest activity to outstrip organizational roots. Further, they encourage governments to avoid concentrating their power in specific spatial locations and thus make revolution in some ways more difficult.
Capussotti, Enrica. (1997). Italian Cyberpunk: A Networked Community. Quaderni di Sociologia, Vol. 41, No. 13, p. 59-77.
An analysis of the cyberpunk electronic conference (virtual community) in the Italian computer network considers the use of a common language. After a presentation of the cyberpunk attitude, the development of a community structured through the exchange of cyberpunk messages is explored. The evolution of the cyberpunk virtual community is traced, noting the gender relations, flame wars (virulent personal attacks between users), typology of participants, and the ambivalence of the communications in use.
Chester, Andrea, and Gillian Gwynne. (Dec 1998). Online Teaching: Encouraging Collaboration through Anonymity. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, No. 2.
This paper describes our experience as tertiary teachers (and learners) in cyberspace. A brief evaluation of the literature on computer-mediated communication (CMC) is presented, together with a review of the major theoretical positions explaining online interaction. The filtered-cues and social information processing perspectives are compared in the light of more recent formulations of the hyperpersonal. With a desire to facilitate and critically evaluate a hyperpersonal learning context or online learning community, we developed a range of strategies including the use of aliases. The subject is described together with our observations of the benefits and disadvantages of pseudonymity for education.
Chung, Pei Chi. (1997). The Social Dimensions of Computer-Mediated Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Two On-Line Discussion Groups. American Sociological Association (ASA).
Examines the diversity and complexity of group interaction in computer-mediated communication. Recent studies have emphasized that computer-mediated communication enables an asynchronous and technologically mediated interaction in group communication. A qualitative comparison of two online discussion groups, based on a total of 3,000+ posted messages, provides further analysis of the influence of computer technology on the development of human communication. Lewis Coser's theory of social conflicts is drawn on to explore how the use of language in Usenet communication differs from that in Listserv communication. Coser contends that communal conflict exists in a closed environment, and noncommunal conflict in an open social environment. Results correspond to Coser's thesis that a homogeneous group tends to achieve higher consensus than a less-homogeneous group does in computer-mediated communication. In Usenet communication, the high bandwidth of access around the globe increases the group size and membership. In Listserv communication, the point-to-point system restricts the group structure so that social relationship is relatively higher than that in Usenet communication. "Flame war" in an open environment tends to become direct and personal, whereas conflict in a restricted structure demonstrates implicit rhetoric to maintain harmony in small group communication.
Coleman, L.H., C.E. Paternite, and R.C. Sherman. (Jan 1999). A Reexamination of Deindividuation in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 51-65.
Classical deindividuation theory has been posited as a useful framework for understanding certain cognitive and behavioral changes commonly seen in computer-mediated communication (CMC). Participants in CMC discussion groups were significantly more immersed in the discussion than face-to-face (FTF) discussants, and tended not to perceive their team members as individuals, providing evidence that the CMC users met the cognitive criteria for a state of deindividuation. Nevertheless, CMC participants did not produce more negative behaviors than FTF participants, demonstrating that it is insufficient to attribute negative behavior solely to a deindividuated state. These results are discussed in light of classical deindividuation theory and are contrasted with predictions from the more recent social identity/deindividuation model.
Cutler, R. H. (April 1995). Distributed Presence and Community in Cyberspace. Interpersonal Computing and Technology: An Electronic Journal for the 21st Century, Vol. 3, No. 2.
Today the technology of cyberspace is creating the social situation for the formation of a new understanding of community. In response to the environment in which people find themselves working and living, they appropriate the technology for their own needs. The consequent constructed social space is the fertile ground for new social relationships, roles, and a sense of self. Interaction is the key feature of cyberspace in the exchange of information from which a sense of self and control can be built. The result of new senses of self is a new sense of presence that fills the space in fluid forms of community. Community for persons living in a technological environment is shifting from culture-defining mass media to that of a proliferation of media as alternative sources of mediated experience. Each aspect of this new social situation will be investigated in turn: the features of cyberspace, the response of human social needs, and the building of community through presence.
D'Ambra, J., R.E. Rice, M. O'Connor. (May/June 1998). Computer-mediated Communication and Media Preference: an Investigation of the Dimensionality of Perceived Task Equivocality and Media Richness. Behaviour and Information Technology, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 164-174.
Computer-mediated communication is the foundation of networking and electronic communities. As the use of new communication technologies continues to proliferate throughout organizations, new modes of interaction between individuals and groups emerge, presenting alternative media choices. How individuals choose between these modes has stimulated much research into theoretical perspectives of media choice within networked and electronic communities. Media Richness Theory is one of these theoretical perspectives. The research presented in this paper investigates the underlying factors of Media Richness Theory, task equivocality and media richness. The results obtained provide evidence to suggest that equivocality may not be unidimensional, and that the richness of media is perceived multidimensionally in terms of the information carrying capacity of media. The findings on dimensionality of equivocality raise doubts as to the basic assumptions of this concept and media richness theory.
Dennis, A.R., S. T. Kinney, and Y. T. Hung. (Aug 1999). Gender Differences in the Effects of Media Richness. Small Group Research, Vol. 30, No. 4, p. 405-437.
Media richness theory argues that performance improves when ream members use "richer" media for equivocal tasks. Virtually all research on media richness theory has focused on perceptions: surveys of individuals 'beliefs about media rather than investigating actual performance with richer versus leaner media. This experiment studied the effects of media richness on decision making in two-person teams (all male, all female, and mixed gender) using one form of "new media" (computer-mediated communication), participants rook longer to make decisions with computer-mediated communication. Matching richness to task equivocality only resulted in better performance for the all-female teams, likely because females are more sensitive to nonverbal communication and more affected by its absence in computer-mediated communication. For remaining teams, using richer face-to-face communication did not improve performance to a greater extent for more equivocal than less equivocal tasks. Results support media richness theory only for all-female teams.
DeSanctis, G., and Peter Monge. (June 1998). Communication Processes for Virtual Organizations. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 4.
Communication is fundamental to any form of organizing but is preeminent in virtual organizations. Virtual organizations are characterized by (a) highly dynamic processes, (b) contractual relationships among entities, (c) edgeless, permeable boundaries, and (d) reconfigurable structures. Relative to more traditional settings, communication processes that occur in virtual contexts are expected to be rapid, customized, temporary, greater in volume, more formal, and more relationship-based. To glean insight into communication processes for virtual organizations, we draw on the rich body of literature on synchronous and asynchronous electronic organizational communication. The vast set of empirical findings regarding mediated communication can foreshadow how communication will change as firms "go virtual." Six areas of electronic communication research provide implications for the major aspects of virtual organization design: (1) communication volume and efficiency, (2) message understanding, (3) virtual tasks, (4) lateral communication, (5) norms of technology use, and (6) evolutionary effects.
Donath, Judith, Karrie Karahalios and Fernanda Viégas. (June 1999). Visualizing Conversation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, No. 4.
Although the archive of text generated by a persistent conversation (i.e. newsgroup, mailing list, recorded chat, etc.) is searchable, it is not very expressive of the underlying social patterns. In this paper we will discuss the design of graphical interfaces that reveal the social structure of the conversation by visualizing patterns such as bursts of activity, the arrival of new members, or the evolution of conversational topics. Our focus is on two projects: Chat Circles, a graphical interface for synchronous conversation and Loom, a visualization of threaded discussion. Through these examples we will explore key issues in the generation, design and use of graphical interfaces for persistent conversations.
Douglas, Mary, and Gabriele Pallotti. (June 1995). The Home as a Virtual Community. Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, Vol. 36, No. 2, p. 229-250.
An anthropological analysis of consumption asserts that the central consuming unit of society is the home. After critically assessing oversimplified economic approaches to consumption, based on a hypothetical individual with rational, culture-neutral consumer practices, problems with the symbolic/natural values of goods found in later revisions of sociologically based consumption theory are discussed. Here, the home is identified as a virtual community, containing organizational patterns of consumption that parallel those in general society. A typology of four virtual community homes is sketched - the individualist, the isolated, the traditional complex group, and the commune - and contrasted with consumption behavior of the typical non-home - the hotel.
Du Pont, Pete. (May 15, 1999). Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: How the Internet Will Revolutionize Public Policy. Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. 65, No. 15, p. 477-479.
We are entering into what Winston Churchill called "the broad sunlit uplands" of individual opportunity. As a result, we will see a very different kind of public policy around the world in the next 3 to 4 decades. The computer, the Internet, the microprocessor are giving individuals power. The Age of Technology will change the whole paradigm of knowledge accumulation. The availability of information is going to open up a lot of cabinets that used to be locked in the government, in industry and among academics.
Dyson, Esther, George Gilder, George Keyworth, and Alvin Toffler. (1996). Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age. (Release 1.2, August 22, 1994). Information Society, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 295-308.
As humankind explores this new electronic frontier of knowledge, it must confront again the most profound questions of how to organize itself for the common good. The meaning of freedom, structures of self-government, definition of property, nature of competition, conditions for cooperation, sense of community, and nature of progress will each be redefined for the Knowledge Age - just as they were redefined for anew age of industry some 250 years ago. The nature of cyberspace, the nature and ownership of property, the nature of the marketplace, the nature of freedom , the essence of community, and the role of government are each examined in detail.
Endo, Kaoru. March (1998). Projection into Virtuality: Modernity and Virtual Communities. Japanese Sociological Review, Vol. 48, No. 4, p. 50-64.
Analyzes the relationship between modernity and global computer-mediated communication, especially the Internet, to explain recent social changes. Because the Internet is very important to many aspects of today's global society, and virtuality has become an essential feature of modernity, it is argued that modernity develops the virtuality of societies. How problems of virtual communities both reflect and contradict those of modernity is discussed. It is suggested that understanding the dynamics of computer-mediated communication technology and applying these insights to society as a whole can help improve the human condition.
Escobar, Arturo, David Hess, Isabel Licha, Will Sibley, Marilyn Strathern, and Judith Sutz. (June 1994). Welcome to Cyberia: Notes on the Anthropology of Cyberculture. Current Anthropology, Vol. 35, No. 3, p. 211-223.
Significant changes in the nature of social life are being brought about by computer, information, and biological technologies, to the extent that-some argue-a new cultural order, ''cyberculture,'' is coming into being. This paper presents an overview of the types of anthropological analyses that are being conducted in the area of new technologies and suggests additional steps for the articulation of an anthropology of cyberculture. it builds upon science, technology, and society studies in various fields and on critical studies of modernity. The implications of technoscience for both anthropological theory and ethnographic research are explored. Consistent throughout all the literature about CMC is the concept of community - that sense of group identity that reduces social isolation, encourages interactive mental engagement, and provides a social context for conversation and dialogue. The community concept provides the thread that binds the elements of communication theory, distance education, and learning theory into the whole of the instructional CMC context (Connolly & Schneebeck, 1993; Kay, 1995; Levy, 1995; Rheingold, 1995; Stoll, 1995).
Escobar, Arturo. (May 1995). Anthropology and the Future: New Technologies and the Reinvention of Culture. Futures, Vol. 27, No. 4, p. 409-421.
Computer, information and biological technologies are bringing about a fundamental transformation in the structure and meaning of modern society and culture. Not only is this transformation clearly susceptible to anthropological inquiry but it constitutes perhaps a privileged arena for advancing anthropology's project of understanding human societies from the vantage points of biology, language, history and culture. This article reviews the types of cultural analyses that are being conducted today in the social nature, impact, and use of new technologies and suggests additional contexts and steps toward the articulation of an anthropology of cyberculture.
Ferris, Sharmila Pixy. (1996). Women On-Line: Cultural and Relational Aspects of Women's Communication in On-Line Discussion Groups. Interpersonal Computing and Technology, Vol. 4, No. 3/4, p. 29-40.
Researchers have predicted that the unique characteristics of computer-mediated communication would mitigate gender differences. The recent increase in participation of women on-line provides an opportunity to investigate this prediction. A review of the literature leads to the conclusion that women's communication in cyberspace often mirrors that of face-to-face communication, linguistically and relationally. However, on-line communities can offer women a unique communication opportunity, allowing for the development and display of a distinct relational and cultural style.
Fischer, C. S. (Winter 1997). Technology and Community: Historical Complexities. Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 67, No. 1, p. 113-18.
As a comment on speculations that new electronic technologies will revolutionize community, this article points to three lessons drawn from historical studies on earlier technologies such as the telephone: (1) Effects are modest; (2) effects differ from one specific technology to another; and (3) the effects of any one technology can be contradictory.
Fuller, R. (May 16, 1994). Human-Computer-Human Interaction: How Computers Affect Interpersonal Communication. The Electronic Journal on Virtual Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2.
There are two contemporary paradigms of the human-computer interface (HCI) -- the conversation paradigm and the direct manipulation paradigm. Neither one of these paradigms provides good models for designers of electronic media. A paradigm based on using the computer as a medium for conversation (rather than as the target of conversation) might resolve this problem. With this new paradigm, users of electronic media may be less likely to misperceive someone else's personality. Two groups of subjects were tested on their abilities to make personality assessments of people they had communicated with. The first group of paired subjects were users of traditional electronic media. Each pair consisted of Person A, who took the test as if they were someone (Person B) they had communicated with but had never seen, and Person B, who took the same test as if they were themselves. A second group of paired subjects who had never communicated using electronic media were asked to do the same task. The electronic media group consistently perceived the person they communicated with to be more analytical and judgmental than that person perceived themselves as being. There were no significant differences in perceptions in the face-to-face (no electronic media) group.
Galegher J., L. Sproull, and S. Kiesler. (Oct 1998). Legitimacy, Authority, and Community in Electronic Support Groups. Written Communication, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 493-530.
In electronic support groups, people use Internet-based electronic text communication to discuss personal problems or disorders with others who share common circumstances. Although their discussions exist only in the electronic medium, these groups can be viewed usefully as discourse communities. The authors draw on what is known about two other popular sources of help-face-to-face self-help groups and self-help books-to frame the rhetorical challenges faced by members of electronic support groups. The authors then compare the discourse of electronic support groups with that of electronic hobby groups to demonstrate that the two sets differ in terms of the rhetorical behavior of their participants. The authors analyze messages to determine how members establish legitimacy and authority in their texts and how message exchange gives rise to group identity and a sense of community Our observations indicate that although some discourse characteristics and some rhetorical features are common to all the electronic groups we studied, others are unique to the special requirements of electronic support groups.
Garcia, A.C., and J. B. Jacobs. (1999). The Eyes of the Beholder: Understanding the Turn-Taking System in Quasi-synchronous Computer-mediated Communication. Research on Language and Social Interaction, Vol. 32, No. 4, p. 337-367.
This article is a comparison of the turn-taking systems in computer-mediated communication (CMC) and oral conversation. Previous research on CMC has relied on printouts of conversations as data, whereas we used videotaped recordings of each participant's computer screen in order to capture the interactional process of producing the conversation. We used a transcription system developed specifically for this type of analysis that enabled us to collate the actions and experiences of each participant onto one document. Because of this, we were able to see what information each participant had at the time they made the decision to write, post, edit, or erase a message. This article is based on 4 quasi-synchronous CMC (QS-CMC) conversations between students in a college classroom. We discovered that the rum-taking system of QS-CMC is substantially different from the rum-taking system of oral conversation (Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson, 1974), and we describe some of the implications of this difference for the structure of interaction in QS-CMC.
Garton, L., C. Haythornthwaite, and B. Wellman. (June, 1997). Studying Online Social Networks. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 1.
When a computer network connects people or organizations, it is a social network. Yet the study of such computer-supported social networks has not received as much attention as studies of human-computer interaction, online person-to-person interaction, and computer-supported communication within small groups. We argue the usefulness of a social network approach for the study of computer-mediated communication. We review some basic concepts of social network analysis, describe how to collect and analyze social network data, and demonstrate where social network data can be, and have been, used to study computer-mediated communication. Throughout, we show the utility of the social network approach for studying computer-mediated communication, be it in computer-supported cooperative work, in virtual community, or in more diffuse interactions over less bounded systems such as the Internet.
Goodman, Paul S., and Eric D. Darr. (Dec 1998). Computer-aided Systems and Communities: Mechanisms for Organizational Learning in Distributed Environments. MIS Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 4, p. 417-440.
The role of computer-aided systems (CAS) for enhancing organizational learning in distributed environments is examined. The basic research questions are: 1. How do features of CAS enhance learning? 2. How does organizational context influence the role of CAS in organizational learning? The theoretical framework focuses on the decision to contribute and adopt knowledge in distributed environments. Specifically, the intersections between the features of CAS and inhibitors to contributing or adopting knowledge, in the light of different organizational context variables, are investigated. Two cases of information environments for knowledge sharing are examined: a formal electronic library system and an informal community that uses a variety of communication technologies.
Graetz, K.A., E.S. Boyle, C.E. Kimble, P. Thompson, and J.L. Garloch. (Dec. 1998). Information Sharing Face-to-face Teleconferencing, and Electronic Chat Groups. Small Group Research, Vol. 29, No. 6, p. 714-743.
Laboratory groups attempted to reach consensus on a simulated business problem. Members of 4 -person groups received information on whether three proposed systems met each of 10 desired criteria. Cast as a hidden profile problem the information was distributed unevenly within the group. Groups communicated using one of three formats:face-to-face, teleconference, or electronic chat. As predicted, cognitive workload was significantly higher and fewer correct decisions were obtained in the electronic chat condition versus the other two formats. The electronic chat medium limited participants' ability to coordinate and verify information. Electronic chat should be combined with collaboration technology or groupware that facilitates information storage, organization, and processing.
Granito, A. J., Leo Groarke, and John Kohls. (Fall 1996). Open Peer Commentaries on Virtuality, Conversation, and Morality. Technology Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, p. 215-226.
Open peer commentaries are offered on Sandra L. Christensen's argument ((1996) [see 9810156]) that virtual technology influences the conversations and interactions it transmits and facilitates. A. J. Granito (Youngstown State U, OH) elaborates on Christensen's claim by examining the preconditions of interaction and how they affect the relationship between virtual reality mediation (in cyberspace) and corporate communication. Leo Groarke (Wilfried Laurier U, Waterloo, Ontario) challenges Christensen's claims through a historical analysis of other virtual environments that have influenced human interaction in ancient Western societies. John Kohls (Gonzaga U, Spokane, WA) focuses on the concept of the virtual community, comparing its dynamics, codes, structures, and customs to actual communities and suggesting that the virtual form may facilitate more social access and voice and contain less prejudice.
Gregson, K. (1998). Conversation and Community or Sequential Monologues: An Analysis of Politically Oriented Newsgroups. Proceedings of the ASIS Annual Meeting, Vol. 35, p. 531- 541.
People discuss politics with friends, families, at work, etc. With the rise of computer mediated communication it seems logical that people would create new online groups with whom to discuss politics. This paper is an introductory exploration of two usenet newsgroups focused on political discussions. The goal was to answer questions such as who is participating in these online discussions and do the online groups resemble more traditional discussion networks.
Griffith, Terri L., and Gregory B. Northcraft. (May 1994). Distinguishing Between the Forest and the Trees: Media, Features, and Methodology in Electronic Communication Research. Organization Science, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 272-285.
A methodological framework for conceptualizing and operationalizing electronic communication research is presented that depicts the relationships between media, media features, and individual and organizational outcomes. Its utility is demonstrated through analysis of the participation of 180 undergraduate students in sealed-bid job negotiations. Communication of bids was either paper-and-pencil or computer-mediated, with and without documentation capabilities. Negotiators were either identified or anonymous. Computer-mediated communication and the documentation and anonymous conditions yielded less individually beneficial agreements. The effects of documentation were less in the computer-mediated condition.
Gruber, S. (Jul-Sep 1999). Communication Gone Wired: Working Toward a Practiced Cyberfeminism. Information Society, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 199-208.
This article complicates concepts of gender and race in virtual environments by presenting a case study of an African American woman's (Celie's) on-line personalities. It discusses how one woman's presence in a college class and her on-line contributions to a (cyber)community of peers influenced her and the group's perspectives on violence and gender issues. The article shows that Celie's interactions on a virtual forum are related to and an extension of a multitude of factors such as her upbringing, her schooling, her wish to succeed in an environment often inhospitable and hostile to her needs, and her gendered identity. A close analysis of her online voice provides a starting point for cyberfeminists to look more closely at virtual forums and their potential far enhancing student learning, diversity, and multiple perspectives in classroom environments. This article also encourages feminist scholars to continue explorations centered around the multiple discourse strategies employed by participants in any given conversation.
Hacker, Kenneth L., and Michael A. Todino. (1996). Virtual Democracy at the Clinton White House: An Experiment in Electronic Democratisation. Javnost /The Public, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 71- 86.
Assesses the utility of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and related communications technologies in helping to create democratization. Electronic democratization (ie, the enhancement of democracy through new communications technologies) increases the political power of those who have been generally silenced within traditional forms of government. Survey data gathered in (1994) for the Bill Clinton White House e-mail system are analyzed. Findings are that CMC cannot offer meaningful democratization until it addresses material needs and political domination. The White House e-mail system provides information in a top-down manner, which does not help people determine how to counter their economic or political marginalization. Despite the fact that this system is formally open to all, it reproduces and maintains a system of exclusion and stratification. Until political and economic realities are changed, declarations that CMC aids democracy are destined to remain unrealistically utopian.
Hampton, K.N., and B.N. Wellman. (Nov-Dec 1999). Netville Online and Offline: Observing and Surveying a Wired Suburb. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 43, No. 3, p. 475-492.
Since the mid-1850s, scholars have debated how technological innovation would affect community. The debate continues as the Internet makes it increasingly possible for people to socialize, shop, work, learn, and participate in leisure activities all from within their home. Will the movement of these previously public activities into the private realm lead to reduced participation in public activities? What will be the fate of community and social relations as a result of the growth of computer-mediated communication? Netville is a suburban Toronto development equipped with a high-speed network as part of its design. The clustering of homes within this area allowed us to study the social networks, civic involvement, Internet use, and attitudes of residents. This article explores the research approach of the Netville project and describes its main sources of data collection: surveys collected using computer assisted interviewing and ethnographic fieldwork.
Hafner, Katie. (May 1997). The Epic Saga of The Well: The World's Most Influential Online Community (and it's not AOL). Wired, Vol. 5.05, p. 98-142.
This article is a journey through the history of The Well, an online "community" started by left leaning intellectuals who had formerly populated a commune in Tennessee and later found themselves living in San Francisco. The Well has a reputation today as being a place where intelligent, highly educated people go to have intellectual conversations about any number of topics. The Well is the online home of Howard Rheingold, author of "The Virtual Community", which is largely about The Well conferences he has taken part in and in which he has come to know intimately dozens of other users. It was in the second year of operation that people first began to call The Well a "community". There were two factors to this - It seems that a disruptive poster had found their way to The Well and had upset many people with her vicious and largely unprovoked online personal attacks. People began to feel that she was ruining their community, which until this time had been full of heated debates, but which mostly was a very civil place. Together members of the Well had to devise a way to deal with this user. The second "cohering factor" as Hafner calls it, was that The Well began having face to face office parties for it's members. "In fact" writes Hafner, "the community probably wouldn't have thrived solely in virtual space. Problems that arose online got worked out offline, and vice versa." One early user of The Well felt that his posts were largely ignored until he made his way from Texas to one of the parties in San Francisco. The face to face contact made him a real person to other users of The Well, and a real member of the community.
Not only do members of The Well work together to overcome their collective online problems, they also rally around each other when members have a personal crisis in the real world. Hafner gives details of how this occurred when the 7 year old son of one member was diagnosed with leukaemia and other users sent cards and sat at vigil. Another time, a teenaged member was unable to afford the private school of his choice so other Well users put together enough money to send him anyway. Hafner also tells the story of one user who later became on of The Well's several mangers over the years, who found support and encouragement when he located his birth mother after 40 years. One member comments saying that "I would have walked through fire for these people. I had never experienced this kind of closeness with so many different people all at once."
The idea of "virtual community" has undergone serious discussion on The Well over the years, starting with Howard Rheingold's virtual community conference which generated 300 pages of discussion in it's first 6 weeks (and thousands more since then). (124) Perhaps it was a community when it first started with a small number of like minded people, most of them living in the San Francisco area and having met face to face with each other at Well office parties. But today with thousands of members, The Well has grown to large for such a close knit community feeling to prevail. Signs of this include the drop in attendance at Well office parties, the proliferation of so many conferences that many discuss the same issues but are entirely unknown to users in other conferences. Also, there has been a proliferation of private conferences on The Well, where only invited users may participate.
Many visions of online communities can be seen in the day to day life on The Well. People get to know one another intimately there. They feel that they are part of a group with a shared identity. When many of The Well's users go offline, they carry with them the pain of being flamed, the questions asked by others, and even the pain and suffering of other members. That is, they carry parts of their life on The Well into other parts of their lives. Intimate contacts with others, feelings of group unity and belonging, and the carrying of community problems and triumphs into the real world - is this enough to call The Well a community? The answer to this probably depends on whether we believe that the online world must mirror the offline world in every way, including in the definitions we utilise in our study of it. We should conceptualise the term "community" as having a different definition which is relational to the differences between an offline community and an online community one.
Hampton, Keith N. (1998). The Wired Suburb: Glocalization On- and Offline. American Sociological Association (ASA).
The Wired Suburb project is a longitudinal quantitative and qualitative analysis of a residential community, "Netville," currently being built in suburban Toronto (Ontario) where each home in the neighborhood has been equipped with a series of advanced communication technologies. Data from initial baseline surveys, logs of on-line activities, ethnographic observations, and focus groups are drawn on to explore the possibility that, as computer- mediated communication moves into the home, there will be an increase in both local and global relations that brings about a "glocalization" of society. The development of computer-supported social networks holds the prospect of enhancing both nonlocal (global) and very local communities. On the one hand, computer and telecommunication networks enable long-distance contact, and the bandwidth they provide is wide enough to support community ties of sociability and support as well as more instrumental relationships. On the other hand, the computer interface ties participants in computer-supported social networks to the source of their connectivity, ie, their homes and offices. The development of on-line communities, and home- based technologies that enable participation in work, leisure activities, shopping, and education from the home, should encourage on-line communicators to stay at home more and attend to their local surroundings, resulting in glocalization.
Haythornthwaite, C., B. Wellman, and M. Mantei. (1995). Work Relationships and Media Use: A Social Network Analysis. Group Decision and Negotiations, Vol. 4, No. 3, p. 193-211.
Our research provided empirical evidence about the alternative means of communication used by 25 members of a research group who had available to them: unscheduled face-to-face encounters, scheduled face-to-face meetings, electronic mail, telephone, fax, and desktop videoconferencing. The intent of our research is to learn whether there are elements in existing group communication patterns that suggest how future communication systems can be designed or selected to fit the actual work relationships of a group. A detailed social network survey provided information about what members of the group communicated about, how they communicated, and with whom they communicated. Most communication was done through a combination of media, but predominately through unscheduled encounters, electronic mail, and scheduled meetings; people rarely videoconferenced, telephoned, or faxed. Factor analysis reduced the 24 work relationships to six distinct dimensions: receiving work, giving work, collaborative writing, major emotional support, sociability, and computer programming. The proportion in which the three main media were used varied according to the nature of the work dimension. Our findings suggest that a multivariate perspective that considers group norms and practices, social networks, and work dimensions is necessary to analyze media use.
Haythornthwaite, C. (October 1998). Work, Friendship, and Media Use for Information Exchange in a Networked Organization. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 49, No. 12, p. 1101-1114.
We use a social network approach to examine how work and friendship ties in a university research group were associated with the kinds of media used for different kinds of information exchange. The use of electronic mail, unscheduled face-to-face encounters, and scheduled face- to-face meetings predominated for the exchange of six kinds of information: Receiving Work, Giving Work, Collaborative Writing, Computer Programming, Sociability, and Major Emotional Support. Few pairs used synchronous desktop videoconferencing or the telephone, E-mail was used in similar ways as face-to-face communication. The more frequent the contact, the more "multiplex" the tie: A larger number of media was used to exchange a greater variety of information. The closeness of work ties and of friendship ties were each independently associated with more interaction: A greater frequency of communication, the exchange of more kinds of information, and the use of more media.
Hearst, M.A., and J. Grudin. (Jan-Feb 1999). The Changing Relationship Between Information Technology and Society: Has the Ice Man Arrived? Tact on the Internet. IEEE Intelligent Systems and Their Applications, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 8-15.
Society and information technology are rapidly co-evolving, and often in surprising ways. In this installment of "Trends and Controversies," we hear three different views on how society and networked information technology are changing one another. Becoming socialized means learning what kinds of behavior are appropriate in a given social situation. The increasing trend of digitizing and storing our social and intellectual interactions opens the door to new ways of gathering and synthesizing information that was previously disconnected. In the first essay, Jonathan Grudin-a leading thinker in the field of computer-supported cooperative work-points out tat, like a naive child, information technology often ignores important contextual cues, and tactlessly places people into potentially embarrassing situations. He suggests that as we continue to allow computation into the more personal and sensitive aspects of our lives, we must consider how to make information technology more sophisticated about social expectations, and become more sophisticated ourselves in understanding the nature of computer-mediated services.
In the second essay, I discuss a related issue-how newly internetworked information technology allows people acting in their own self-interest to indirectly affect the experiences of other people. It is to be expected that people will try to trick or deceive systems that support intrinsically social activities, such as running auctions. What is surprising here is that technologies that do not obviously have a social aspect, such as information-retrieval ranking algorithms, are nevertheless being manipulated in unexpected ways once they "go social." In our third essay, Barry Wellman-a sociologist and an expert in social network theory-explains how the structure of social networks affects the ways we live and work. He describes the move away from a hierarchical society into a society in which boundaries are more permeable and pole are members of many loosely knit groups. He introduces the notion of glocalization: simultaneously being intensely global and intensely local. Wellman describes how computer- mediated communication is contributing to this glocalization transition in social habits and infrastructure. As networked information technology continues to provide us with new views of ourselves, we hope that these essay will help designers of information technology better understand the broader impact of the work they do.
Herring, S. Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Communication: Bringing Familiar Baggage to the New Frontier. Keynote paper at American Library Association annual convention (Miami, FL, June 27, 1994).
Although research on computer-mediated communication (CMC) dates back to the early days of the technology in the 1970's, researchers have only recently begun to take the gender of users into account. This is perhaps not surprising considering that men have traditionally dominated the technology and have comprised the majority of users of computer networks since their inception, but the result is that most of what has been written on CMC incorporates a very one- sided perspective. However, recent research has been uncovering some eye-opening differences in the ways men and women interact "online", and it is these differences that I will address in my talk today. My basic claim has two parts: first, that women and men have recognizably different styles in posting to the Internet, contrary to the claim that CMC neutralizes distinctions of gender; and second, that women and men have different communicative ethics -- that is, they value different kinds of online interactions as appropriate and desirable. I illustrate these differences -- and some of the problems that arise because of them -- with specific reference to the phenomenon of flaming.
Herring, Susan. (1996). Linguistic and Critical Analysis of Computer-Mediated Communication: Some Ethical and Scholarly Considerations. The Information Society, Vol. 12, No. 2, p.153- 168.
Two proposals (Cavazos 1994) and King (1996) relating to whether and how computer-mediated communication (CMC) researchers should cite electronic messages used as data are compared. Although the proposals prescribe opposite solutions, both contain similar assumptions about the nature of CMC and about the nature of research. These assumptions are argued to reflect discipline-specific biases that exclude other legitimate forms of CMC research. Two examples are discussed of research paradigms that are excluded by the guidelines: linguistic analysis in the positivist tradition, and critical analysis in the social realist tradition. The critical paradigm in particular raises a number of additional ethical considerations not addressed by the proposed guidelines. It is suggested that existing ethical guidelines within each discipline largely suffice to guide on-line research, with the addition of a CMC-specific recommendation clarifying the rights and obligations of researcher and researched in restricted-access as compared with open-access on-line groups.
Herring, Susan. (April 1, 1999). The Value of Interdisciplinarity: A Study Based on the Design of Internet Search Engines. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 50, No. 4, p. 358.
Continued development of the Internet requires the development of efficient, easy-to-use search engines. Ideally, such development should call upon knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines, including computer science, information science, psychology, and ergonomics. The current study is intended to determine whether search engine design shows a pattern of inter- disciplinarity. Two disciplines were selected as the focus for the study: computer science, and library/information science. A citation analysis was conducted. The results show a higher level of interdisciplinarity among library and information scientists than among computer scientists or among any of those categorized as "other." This is reflected both in the types of journals in which the authors publish and in the references they cite to support their work.
Herring, Susan. (June 1999). Interactional Coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, No. 4.
Text-only CMC has been claimed to be interactionally incoherent due to limitations imposed by messaging systems on turn-taking and reference, yet its popularity continues to grow. In an attempt to resolve this apparent paradox, this study evaluates the coherence of computer- mediated interaction by surveying research on cross-turn coherence. The results reveal a high degree of disrupted adjacency, overlapping exchanges, and topic decay. Two explanations are proposed to account for the popularity of CMC despite its relative incoherence: the ability of users to adapt to the medium, and the advantages of loosened coherence for heightened interactivity and language play.
Herring, Susan C. (Jul-Sep 1999). The Rhetorical Dynamics of Gender Harassment Online. Information Society, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 151-168.
This article compares two extended interactions that took place recently on the Internet, one from a recreational Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel, and the other from an academic listserv discussion group, The two interactions exhibit similar gender dynamics, which can be characterized as harassment of female by male participants. This harassment takes different forms, in keeping with the possibilities inherent in the two modes of computer-mediated communication. Whereas female participants on IRC are kicked off the channel, in the discussion group harassers must rely exclusively on language to intimidate and silence, This "rhetoric of harassment" crucially invokes libertarian principles of freedom of expression, constructing women's resistance as "censorship." A rhetorical analysis of the two harassment episodes thus sheds light on the means used to construct and maintain asymmetrical gender and power dynamics in different modes of CMC.
Hill, K.A., and J.E. Hughes. (Jan/Mar 1997). Computer-mediated Political Communication: The USENET and Political Communities. Political Communication, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 3-27.
Social and political groups can facilitate the transmission of information and the formation of political attitudes. We employ the logic of group formation to examine electronic communities. Do electronic groups form cohesive social groups exhibiting the characteristics of traditional physical groups such as churches and peers We conduct a content analysis of 5,611 USENET messages. The messages are analyzed for the following behaviors: political content, group maintenance, and recruitment. We find that most political USENET groups demonstrate the behavioral characteristics one would be expect of a socially cohesive group. We also find that liberal or left-wing political groups are less active and more poorly organized.
Hiltz, Starr Roxanne, and Barry Wellman. (Sep 1997). Asynchronous Learning Networks as a Virtual Classroom. Association for Computing Machinery. Communications of the ACM, Vol. 40, No. 9, p. 44-49.
Computer-mediated communication can enable people with shared interests to form and sustain relationships and communities. Online communities provide emotional support and sociability as well as information and instrumental aid related to shared tasks. Online virtual classrooms combine the characteristics of online communities and computer-supported workgroups. An historical perspective is presented, and studies of how computer-mediated communication affects community interaction are summarized. Also presented are survey examples of different kinds of communities communicating through the Internet. Asynchronous learning networks are examined as an example of an online community.
Hinds, P., and S. Kiesler. (Jul-Aug 1995). Communication Across Boundaries: Work, Structure, and Use of Communication Technologies in a Large Organization. Organization Science, Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 373-393.
Recent popular and theoretical literature emphasizes the significance of communication technology for collaboration and information sharing across organizational boundaries. We hypothesize that due to the collaborative nature of their work and the way they are organized in work groups, technical employees, as compared with administrative employees, will communicate laterally, and will use the telephone and email for this purpose. We studied technical and administrative employees in seven departments of a large telecommunications firm. From logs of communication over two days, we examined vertical and lateral communication inside and outside the chain of command and department, and the use of telephone, email, and voice mail for this communication. Technical employees did have more lateral communication than administrators did, but all lateral communication (not just that of technical employees) tended to be by telephone. Over 50% of employees' communication was extradepartmental; extradepartmental communication, like lateral communication, tended to be by telephone. When employees used asynchronous technology, technical employees used email whereas administrators, especially those at high levels, used voice. Differential boundary-crossing by technical and administrative employees could be explained in part by the flatter structure of the technical work groups. Our results are consistent with Powell (1990), Barley ((1994)) and others who have argued that the rise of technical work and the horizontal organization of technical workers increases collaboration and nonhierarchical communication. Organizations can encourage communication flows across organizational boundaries by strengthening horizontal structures (for technical workers, especially) and supporting old and new technology use by all employees.
Ito, M. (Spring 1996). Theory, Method, and Design in Anthropologies of the Internet. Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 24-26.
The study of the Internet challenges the anthropologist on many fronts. It demands a robust theoretical engagement with the technologies and semiotics of digital information and their relation to material and social realities. It calls for a redefinition of many core methodological touchstones such as ''fieldwork'' and ''participant observation.'' Finally, the study of the Internet requires the analyst to engage self-reflexively in the study of and accountability to politics ''close to home'' and entailing relations of ''studying up.'' While anthropological notions of ''the field'' and ''culture'' are being destabilized at the core of the discipline, ethnographic approaches to new domains of media, science, and technology exhibit a resilient anthropological attention to embodied contexts of practice and everyday experience. This brief statement addresses the study of the Internet from the point of view of an anthropologist engaged with the field.
Jacobson, David. (Winter 1996). Contexts and Cues in Cyberspace: The Pragmatics of Naming in Text-Based Virtual Realities. Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 52, No. 4, p. 461- 479.
Examines social cues in computer-mediated communication, focusing on how participants distinguish between contexts in on-line discourse. The dynamics of cyberspace interaction are often defined by cues, particularly by the naming practices in a text-based virtual reality called a MOO (MUD [multiple user domain] object-oriented). Ethnographic data, collected online over several months from naturally occurring computer-mediated communication show that many MOO cues are common emoticons, eg, :) and :(, for smile and frown; however, other cues are peculiar to MOO, where participants choose character names to create a social identity. The use of real names often indicates a difference between the imaginary and the real, as well as indicating closeness, as in a virtual wedding. Assumptions that participants make about their online relationships are similar to, and equally as diverse as, off-line social interaction. Most interaction models are applicable to either situation, disputing the claims that computer- mediated communication would dramatically alter social relationships. Other areas for related research are suggested.
Jacobson, David. (September 1999). Impression Formation in Cyberspace: Online Expectations and Offline Experiences in Text-based Virtual Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 5, No. 1.
How do people in cyberspace picture one another? More specifically, how do individuals engaged in text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC), with its paucity of visual and auditory cues, form impressions of those with whom they interact? And how do expectations formed online compare with offline experiences? Researchers have begun to answer these questions, drawing primarily on theories of stereotyping. This paper uses prototype theory and related models to extend previous research and to account for discrepancies between online image and offline reality. It draws on interviews with individuals who first met others online and subsequently moved to face-to-face interaction; it also utilizes comparisons between text-based impressions formed online and photographs displayed on web pages.
Jarvenpaa, Sirkka L., Kathleen Knoll, and Dorothy E. Leidner. (Spring 1998). Is Anybody Out There? Antecedents of Trust in Global Virtual Teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 14, No. 4, p. 29-64.
The focus was to explore the antecedents of trust in a global virtual-team setting. Seventy- five teams consisting of 4 to 6 members residing in different countries interacted and worked together for 8 weeks. The 2-week trust-building exercises did have a significant effect on the team members' perceptions of the other members' ability, integrity, and benevolence. In the early phases of teamwork, team trust was predicted strongest by perceptions of other team members' integrity, and weakest by perceptions of their benevolence. The effect of other members' perceived ability on trust decreased over time. The members' own propensity to trust had a significant, though unchanging, effect on trust. A qualitative analysis of six teams' electronic mail messages explored strategies that were used by frequently or not at all by the 3 lowest trust teams. The strategies suggest the presence of "swift" trust.
Jarvenpaa, S. L., and D. E. Leidner. (June 1998). Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 4.
This paper explores the challenges of creating and maintaining trust in a global virtual team whose members transcend time, space, and culture. The challenges are highlighted by integrating recent literature on work teams, computer-mediated communication groups, cross-cultural communication, and interpersonal and organizational trust. To explore these challenges empirically, we report on a series of descriptive case studies on global virtual teams whose members were separated by location and culture, were challenged by a common collaborative project, and for whom the only economically and practically viable communication medium was asynchronous and synchronous computer-mediated communication. The results suggest that global virtual teams may experience a form of 'swift' trust but such trust appears to be very fragile and temporal. The study raises a number of issues to be explored and debated by future research. Pragmatically, the study describes communication behaviors that might facilitate trust in global virtual teams.
Johnson, Dan. (May 1999). Do-it-Yourself Governance? The Futurist, Vol. 33, No. 5, p. 12.
Citizens seek the security of gated communities to escape crime and urban decay. In these communities they choose self-governance as an alternative to pressuring government bureaucrats and politicians to improve declining public infrastructure. Law professor Tom W. Bell says the growth of private communities has made polycentric law an everyday reality for millions of people. Meanwhile, the Internet has developed its own legal processes to handle bad behavior in cyberspace.
The Internet depends on informal, shared norms to regulate people in chat rooms, newsgroups, and other virtual communities. Criticism from peers normally enforces enough "netiquette" to maintain civil relationships online, writes Bell in the Cato Policy Report. In other instances, however, more-formal procedures are employed to ensure order: Participants must agree to written rules before entering discussions, and moderators may be empowered to screen messages.
Jones, Quentin. (Sep 1997). Virtual-Communities, Virtual Settlements and Cyber-Archaeology: A Theoretical Outline. ournal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 3.
If useful explanations are to be provided about the relationship between computer mediated communication (CMC) technologies and online behavior, then a longer-term perspective needs to be taken than the current focus of CMC researchers. This paper provides such a perspective by outlining in theoretical terms how a cyber-archaeology of virtual communities can be conducted. In archaeology, researchers focus on cultural artifacts. A similar focus on the cultural artifacts of virtual communities should be a focus for CMC researchers as these artifacts can provide an integrative framework for a community's life, be it virtual or real. It is proposed that CMC researchers pursue cyber-archaeology by systematically examining and modeling the framework for virtual community life provided by their cultural artifacts.
The systematic exploration of cyber-space via cyber-archaeology cannot proceed without adequate linguistic tools that allow for taxonomy. The first step in the creation of such a taxonomy is to distinguish between virtual communities and their cyber-place, the virtual settlement. The second, is to define and operationalize the term virtual settlement so that they can be systematically characterized and modeled. With this new terminology, it is possible to detail a cyber-archaeology where technological determinism is replaced with the notion of bounded hierarchies and material behavior. The theoretical outline will show how cultural artifacts can play a role in constraining the forms virtual settlements can sustain. The modeling of the boundaries of virtual settlements via cyber-archaeology should dramatically increase our understanding of communication in general.
Jones, Steve. (March 1997). Using the News: An Examination of the Value and Use of News Sources in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 4.
This study examines one facet of the penetration of personal computers into everyday life. It seeks to discover how members of a Usenet newsgroup value and use news sources. Electronic news sources predominated. An important finding is that media use was not tied to the user's local geographic. The study raises several questions for future research: What are the rhetorical dimensions of media use in electronic communities? How might our understanding of readers and communities be affected by new patterns of media use in electronic communities?
Jordan, Tim, and Paul Taylor. (Nov 1998). A Sociology of Hackers. Sociological Review, Vol. 46, No. 4, p. 757-780.
Illicit computer intruders, or hackers, are often thought of as pathological individuals rather than as members of a community. However, hackers exist in social groups that provide expertise, support, training, journals, and conferences. Here, qualitative fieldwork data are drawn on to profile this community and establish the nature of hacking in information societies. To delineate a sociology of hackers, the nature of computer-mediated communication and the act of computer intrusion, the hack, are introduced, and the hacking community is explored in terms of (1) a demographic analysis of the number of hackers and hacks; (2) its six different aspects: technology, secrecy, anonymity, membership fluidity, male dominance, and motivations; and (3) its construction of a boundary, albeit fluid, between itself and its other, the computer security industry. This boundary is constructed through metaphors whose central role is to establish the ethical nature of hacking. A conclusion that rejects any pathologization of hackers is offered.
Kayany, Joseph M. (Oct 1998). Contexts of Uninhibited Online Behavior: Flaming in Social Newsgroups on Usenet. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 49, No. 12, p. 1135-1141.
Recent research on uninhibited behavior in computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems have suggested that flaming is social-context dependent and not a media characteristic of CMC. A closer look is taken at the social context in which flaming occurs, which need not necessarily be developed online but, as well, can be the social, religious, and political background and affiliations of the participants. Messages were analyzed that were posted during one week to four Usenet social newsgroups that represent different national and cultural groups. The levels of flaming in these groups were found to be higher than any reported in other studies. The findings show that the frequency of flaming differed between the newsgroups, and differed within newsgroups according to the general topic under discussion, confirming that social context and not the medium is the primary determinant of online uninhibited behavior.
Kahai, Surinder S., and Randolph B. Cooper. (Summer 1999). The Effect of Computer-Mediated Communication on Agreement and Acceptance. Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 165-188.
A model of relationships among computer-mediated communication systems (CMCS), group processes, and group outcomes is developed and tested. The group outcomes examined are agreement and acceptance. Agreement is the extent to which members of a problem-solving group hold similar views and solutions about the problem at the end of their task. Acceptance is the extent to which members of a problem-solving group acquiesce to the views and solutions of other members, while holding reservations about those views and solutions. The distinction between agreement and acceptance is important because members in agreement are more likely to support the implementation of the solution than are those who merely accept the solution. Based on a laboratory experiment, it is found that socioemotional communication (both positive - showing friendliness and supportiveness - and negative - showing hostility and rejection) as well as task-oriented communication play important mediating roles between CMCS use and acceptance and agreement. The findings suggest ways to promote agreement through management intervention and CMCS design. In addition, the findings suggest some intriguing avenues for further research, such as the lack of symmetry between the effects of positive and negative socioemotional communication.
King, Storm A. (1996). Researching Internet Communities: Proposed Ethical Guidelines for the Reporting of Results. The Information Society, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 119-127.
Communication researchers and social scientists are quickly discovering the value of data that exists in the postings of members of Internet e-mail, Usenet, and real-time groups. The ability to communicate with one's peers, no matter how esoteric the interests, is causing an explosion in the number of new virtual communities. The interpersonal dynamics of these groups are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of academic research. The ability to do naturalistic observations of group dynamics, as they are exhibited in these exchanges of text, has captured the attention of many researchers. The institutional review boards of major universities are granting researchers exempt or expedited status for this work, due to the public nature of the notes being analyzed. These studies often involve the lack of informed consent. Guidelines based on the American Psychological Association ethical guidelines for use of human subjects in research are proposed.
King, Storm A. (1996). Commentary on Responses to the Proposed Guidelines. The Information Society, Vol.12, No. 2, p.199-201.
A commentary addresses numerous responses to the author's Researching Internet Communities: Proposed Ethical Guidelines for the Reporting of Results.
Kling, Rob. (Spring 1996). Synergies and Competition Between Life in Cyberspace and Face-to- Face Communities. Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 50-54.
The author briefly discusses the difference between community in the sense of the in person relationships people experience and the types of relationships that might develop on on-line fora. He suggests that more research needs to be done on the relationship between electronic forums and in person social interactions.
Kolko, B. E. (Jul-Sep 1999). Representing Bodies in Virtual Space: The Rhetoric of Avatar Design. Information Society, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 177-186.
This article discusses the rhetorical aspects of avatars, or virtual selves, within multiuser graphical virtual realities(GVRs), In both text-based and graphical virtual worlds, users are represented in the world by discursive or visual avatars. Because the manner in which users in a synchronous shared environment are represented affects how they are able to communicate, the design of an avatar affects the communicative possibilities within a virtual world, This essay examines the development of GVRs in order to question how representations of selves in these newer versions of cyberspace relate to on-line communication. The focus here is particularly on how bodies in GVRs are gendered, and how differing modes of gender inscription might affect online interaction. Ultimately, GVRs raise the issue of how the visual affects the verbal when both are mediated by technology.
Komito, Lee. (Apr-Jun 1998). The Net as a Foraging Society: Flexible Communities. Information Society, Vol. 14, No. 2, p. 97-106.
In discussions about electronic and virtual communities, community can variously refer to a moral community, a normative community, a community of practice, an intentional community, or a proximate community. The concept of community is, itself, deemed unproblematic, and often is used in either a reductivist or ethnocentric manner. An exploration of nonindustrial foraging societies is used to illustrate the wide variation in types and definitions of communities that exists. Social groups in foraging societies exhibit characteristics similar to those observed in technologically mediated social groups, and these similarities illustrate the deficiencies of typological or ideal-type definitions of community, as well as the artificial nature of a division between real and electronic communities. Groups that depend on computer-mediated communication among members can, and should, be examined using the same social science concepts and methods used to examine any other social groups.
Kraut, Robert, Sara Kiesler, Tridas Mukhopadhyay, William Scherlis, and Michael Patterson. (Dec 1998). Social Impact of the Internet: What Does it Mean? Association for Computing Machinery, Vol. 41, No. 12, p. 21-22.
Using the Internet at home causes small but reliable declines in social and psychological well-being, according to findings from a study examining the domestication of the Internet - the integration of the Internet into the home. The HomeNet project studied a sample of 169 people in Pittsburgh during their first year or two online. As people in this sample used the Internet more, they reported keeping up with fewer friends, spending less time talking with their families, experiencing more daily life stressors, and feeling lonelier and more depressed. These results occurred even though interpersonal communication was their most important reason for using the Internet. Other important issues concerning the results of the research are addressed.
Kraut R., M. Patterson, V. Lundmark, S. Kiesler, T. Mukopadhyay, and W. Scherlis. (Sep 1998). Internet Paradox: A Social Technology that Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well- Being? American Psychologist, Vol. 53, No. 9, p.1017-1031.
The Internet could change the lives of average citizens as much as did the telephone in the early pal? of the 20th century and television in the 1950s and 1960s. Researchers and social critics are debating whether the Internet is improving or harming participation in community life and social I relationships. This research examined the social and psychological impact of the Internet on 169 people in 73 households during their first 1 to 2 years on-line. We used longitudinal darn to examine the effects of the Internet on social involvement and psychological well-being. In this sample, the Internet was used extensively for communication. Nonetheless, greater use of the Internet was associated with declines in participants' communication with family members in the household,, declines in the size of their social circle, and increases in their depression and loneliness. These findings have implications for research, for public policy: and for the design of technology.
Latting, Jean Kantambu. (1994). Diffusion of Computer-Mediated Communication in a Graduate Social Work Class: Lessons from "The Class from Hell." Computers in Human Services, Vol. 10, No. 3, p. 21-45.
Examines the attempted diffusion of the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) using electronic mail (e-mail) in a graduate social work class on organizational theory. Using an interpretive interactionist approach, described is how latent meanings of the CMC innovation emerged and the impact these meanings had on student acceptance of CMC as an innovation. Recommendations for instructors seeking to introduce CMC in their classes are included.
Lemke, Dwight K. (Sep 1998). Cyberia. Journal of Management Inquiry, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 270- 272.
The electronic discussion group of the Organization and Management Theory division of the Academy of Management (OMT-L) is a virtual forum for exchanging ideas and forming research networks. An examination of some of these discussions shows that the largest thread running through them concerns the definition of the virtual organization.
The more than 900 members of OMT-L, the electronic discussion group of the Organization and Management Theory division of the Academy of Management, have a unique opportunity at times to reshape and redefine the field of organization and management theory and send it off in new and challenging directions. At its best, OMT-L is a virtual forum-an electronic chautauqua-for exchanging ideas and forming research networks. Because of the diverse background of the membership, members can sometimes get insights into their work from those whose own research agenda is only tangentially related to theirs, if at all.
Lemke, J. Cultural Dynamics and Virtual Culture. (February 28, 1994). The Electronic Journal on Virtual Culture, Vol. 2, No. 1.
This introduction to the EJVC special issue _Cultural Dynamics and Virtual Culture_ provides an overview of the purposes and content of the special issue. It also seeks to sketch the broad outlines of a general conceptual approach to the dynamics of computer-mediated communication as a cultural subsystem and to the potential role of this subsystem in general processes of cultural change.
LeValley, Janet. (Dec 1997). Doing it in Cyberspace: Cultural Sensitivity in Applied Anthropology. Anthropology of Consciousness, Vol. 8, No. 4, p. 113-132.
Examines cultural boundary issues and computer-mediated consciousness, focusing on the emergence and allocation of cultural, intercultural, and transcultural choices in a global cybercommunity. Based on ethnographic research data specific to Fujitsu Software Corp's WorldsAway Dreamscape, an online virtual community drawing from 147 countries, cultural choices and conflicts in the areas of cybercommunication patterns, avatar etiquette, vendo item availability and usage, celebrations and events, mythology and ritual, territory and identity, government, and ratava gatherings are examined. Conflict is grounded in a me-or-you cultural competition. Respectful intercultural communication, with high intentionality, negotiates satisfactory me-and-you resolution. Embracing an emphasis on the coordination and integration of multiple cultural realities results in a continual recontextualization of cultural meaning in the virtual community. This engenders a consciousness of the whole, a sense of us-ness that is the essence of successful transcultural global community.
Lievrouw, Leah A. (1997). Our Own Devices: Heterotopic Communication, Discourse and Culture in the Information Society. The Information Society: An International Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2.
The main premise of this paper is that in information societies generally, and in virtual social contexts particularly, a distinctive style of interaction to facilitate the communication of difference, heterotopic communication, has emerged. It rests on two cultural foundations: an ideological belief in the positive, socially integrating power of communication, and a prevailing ethic of instrumental rationality, subjective individualism and strategically practiced self-interest. The former is demonstrated by the use of simulation and spectacle as sources of information; exhibitionism/voyeurism as a communicative style; and the awareness of surveillance. The latter is seen in the competitive use of knowledge as a commodity; a surface globalism masking deep parochialism; lateral as well as vertical information inequity; and the use of public vs. private as strategies for engagement rather than as spaces. Those who engage in heterotopic communication resort to their "own devices" both in the sense of personal agendas, strategies, interests, and interpretations, and in the form of the telecommunication tools that help realize them. These personal and technological devices allow individuals with the right educational and technical resources to avoid exposure to disagreement, difference, or other information that does not serve their direct purposes or reflect their particularistic views of the world; yet they also help convey the appearance of openness, availability and cooperation. This style of interaction is used strategically in combination with information and communication technologies to gain social or economic advantages, but it may encourage social separatism and parochialism, inhibit the negotiation of disputes, and emphasize competing interests.
Lindlof, T.R., and M.J. Shatzer. (Spring 1998). Media Ethnography in Virtual Space: Strategies, Limits, and Possibilities. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Vol. 42, No. 2, p. 170-189.
For more than twenty years, ethnography has been used to study audience interpretation and social action. With the advent of the Internet, this approach is now being applied to the cultural practices of computer-mediated communication. This article appraises some strategies for studying a new cultural arena in which aspects of embodiment and identity differ significantly from traditional media reception. Four areas of ethnographic engagement with virtual contexts are examined: the nature and boundaries of virtual community, the social presence of participation, social strategies of entry and membership, and technical utilities of data generation. Ethical issues and future possibilities for research are also discussed.
Liu, Geoffrey Z. (Sept 1999). Virtual Community Presence in Internet Relay Chatting. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 5, No. 1.
This article presents a method based on Jones' "virtual settlement" theory for testing empirically for the presence of virtual community in Internet Relay Chatting (IRC), The conditions for virtual community proposed by Jones are related to the technological context of IRC and formulated as conceptual hypotheses. The author argues that sustained level of co- appearance and nickname stability should be included in testing. Interactivity analysis should include both verbal exchanges and action-simulating messages. Analysis of message references should be done in terms of message content as well as message syntax. Major issues related to research design and implementation are discussed in depth.
Luke, Timothy. (Fall 1997). The Politics of Digital Inequality: Access, Capability and Distribution in Cyberspace. New Political Science, Vol. 41-42, p. 121-144.
The nature of cultures formed, and the resulting network of social relationships, are increasingly shaped in the new virtual community of the World Wide Web. Since so much of communication is conducted over digital networks, many personal relationships with all of their cultural meanings are being reframed by the forms of "cybersubjectivity" in such networked "infostructures." More importantly, a politics of digital inequality is now surfacing, and questions are arising about very basic conditions of access, capability, and distribution in cyberspace. Here, an attempt is made to address these issues by critically rereading some of the more optimistic rhetorics of transformation now coming from digital devotees.
Maltz, Tamir. (June 1996). Customary Law and Power in Internet Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 1.
This essay analyses the evolution of customary law in cybercommunities found on the Internet. This is both an important and interesting issue. It is important as the power relationships and sources of rules on today's computer-mediated networks are becoming the template for the future of online communication and are relevant to potential regulatory strategies. It is an interesting issue as cybercommunities are a novel paradigm of existence - presence defined by communication alone. This essay begins with a description of these cybercommunities and progresses to consider their rules, mechanisms of enforcement, power dynamics, and future.
Mannecke, Brian E., and Joseph S. Valacich. (Fall 1998). Information is What You Make of It: The Influence of Group History and Computer Support on Information Sharing, Decision Quality, and Member Perceptions. Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 15, No. 2, p. 173- 197.
Researchers have proposed that the contradictions observed between past group support systems laboratory and field research may be partially accounted for by the ad-hoc nature of the groups that are often used in the laboratory. To examine this, a laboratory experiment examining the influence of group history and the level of computer support was conducted. Dependent variables examined include information-sharing performance, decision quality, and member perceptions. Subjects completed a hidden profile task - a task where some information is held by all group members prior to the meeting, while other information is held only by a subset of the group. Established groups discussed less unique information than ad-hoc groups. Information sharing was positively related to the quality of group decisions. Members of established groups were more satisfied than members of ad-hoc groups; members using the computer-mediated systems were less satisfied than those communicating face-to-face. In addition, group cohesion was positively related to satisfaction and decision quality. The results are discussed in the context of prior theory and research. Opportunities for future research are also described.
Mantovani, G. (Jan 1994). Is Computer-mediated Communication Intrinsically Apt to Enhance Democracy in Organizations? Human Relations, Vol. 47, No. 1, p. 45-62.
Recent studies on social and organizational processes involved in computer-mediated communication (CMC) are discussed. A technological deterministic approach, which views CMC as inherently apt to support democracy in organizations, is challenged. Claims about equal access, overcoming social barriers, openness and de-individuation, are critically examined with reference to up-to-date literature. Our point, consistent with sociotechnical theory, is that CMC, especially in E-mail use, can alter rhythms and patterns of social interactions in ways both powerful and pervasive, neither positive nor negative in themselves, but shaped by local contexts of use. Stress on social identity processes involved in CMC is suggested as relevant to further research.
Mantovani, G. (Apr-Jun 1996). Social Context in HCl: A New Framework for Mental Models, Cooperation, and Communication. Cognitive Science, Vol. 20, No. 2, p. 237-269.
This article considers current research in computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), computer-mediated communication (CMC), and distributed artificial intelligence (DAI). These areas need an articulated model of social contexts to bridge the persisting gap between social and technological dimensions in computer system design and use. A conceptual model of context is presented to account for both cooperation-conflict and communication-negotiation processes. The model conceives of contexts as including not only physical objects and other people but also social norms which influence both individuals and organizations. It assumes that computer system use occurs in social scenarios in which the features cannot be reduced to any type of input or data in the world that designers and users con process along with other information coming from the current task. The model is built on three levels: from social contexts as normative order (Level 1), to specific and intrinsically complex situations (Level 2), to person-computer interactions for the performance of particular tasks (Level 3).
The model has three main implications. First, Human-Computer interaction (HCI) studies- especially scenario-based design-may profit from a fresh top-down approach to designers' and users' mental models taking into account normative social processes which have been neglected in previous research. Second, CSCW may realize how deeply discrepant perspectives affect multi- agent environments and why in real working life negotiation is intertwined with cooperation. Designers may use this insight to design systems allowing more place for negotiation among actors. Third, we should dismiss the view that CMC lacks adequate social cues and fosters impulsive behavior. Cognitive processes such as categorization, stereotype construction, and social identification can make electronic environments even more strongly sensible to social norms than face-to-face communication. Context, according to our model, is not restricted to the physical co-presence of other people but consists mainly of processes providing situations with socially recognizable meaning.
Mantovani, G., and G. Riva. (Oct 1999). "Real" Presence: How Different Ontologies Generate Different Criteria for Presence, Telepresence, and Virtual Presence. Presence-Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, Vol. 8, No. 5, p. 540-550.
This article claims that the meaning of presence is closely linked to the concept we have of reality, i.e., to the ontology that we more or less explicitly adopt. Different ontological stances support different criteria for presence, telepresence, and virtual presence. We propose a cultural conception of presence that challenges the current idea that experiencing a real or simulated environment deals essentially with perceiving its "objective'' physical features. We reject commonsense ingenuous realism and its dualism opposing external reality and internal ideas. In our perspective, presence in an environment, real or simulated, means that individuals can perceive themselves, objects, and other people not only as situated in an external space but also as immersed in a sociocultural web connecting objects, people, and their interactions. This cultural web-structured by artifacts both physical (e.g., the physical components of the computer networks) and ideal (e.g., the social norms that shape the organizational use of the computer networks)-makes possible communication and cooperation among different social actors by granting them a common reference grid. Environments, real and virtual, are not private recesses but public places for meaningful social interaction mediated by artifacts. Experiencing presence in a social environment such as a shared virtual office requires more than the reproduction of the physical features of external reality; it requires awareness of the cultural web that makes meaningful-and therefore visible-both people and objects populating the environment.
McChesney, R. W. (1996). The Internet and U.S. Communication Policy-making in Historical and Critical Perspective. Journal of Communication, Vol. 46, p. 98-124.
Part of a special section on the Internet. The writer examines to what extent the emerging communication technological revolution, especially the Internet, can override the antidemocratic implications of the media marketplace and foster more democratic media and a more democratic political culture. He locates the current communication policy debates in U.S. political history and discusses how corporate control of communication has been effectively eliminated from these debates. He locates the rise of the new computer communication technologies in the emergence of global corporate capitalism and the tensions between democracy and capitalism, and he contends that these technologies are the product and defining feature of a global capitalism that greatly increases social inequality. He concludes that in order to approach their full democratic potential, the Internet and the eventual information highway will need the kinds of policy measures that are now being broached only marginally.
McKenna, K.Y.A., and J.A. Bargh. (Sep 1998). Comming Out in the Age of the Internet: Identity Demarginalization Through Virtual Group Participation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 75, No. 3, p. 681-694.
Internet newsgroups allow individuals to interact with others in a relatively anonymous fashion and thereby provide individuals with concealable stigmatized identities a place to belong not otherwise available. Thus, membership in these groups should become an important part of identity. Study 1 found that members of newsgroups dealing with marginalized-concealable identities modified their newsgroup behavior on the basis of reactions of other members, unlike members of marginalized-conspicuous or mainstream newsgroups. This increase in identity importance from newsgroup participation was shown in both Study 2 (marginalized sexual identities) and Study 3 (marginalized ideological identities) to lead to greater self- acceptance, as well as coming out about the secret identity to family and friends. Results supported the view that Internet groups obey general principles of social group functioning and have real-life consequences for the individual.
Mehta, Michael D. and Darier, Eric. (1997). Virtual Control and Discipline on the Internet: Electronic Governmentality in the New Wired World. The Information Society, Vol. 14, No. 2.
Current interest in the electronic highway is the latest expression of a technotopia which is about to resolutely tilt western contemporary society into post-modernity, or at least into virtual modernity. The enthusiasm for the electronic highway is already having numerous "power effects." One of these effects is to radically intensify modern forms of power in a new regime we call electronic governmentality. This paper examines these effects by drawing on examples from the Internet, and demonstrates how this communication and information infrastructure challenges some of our most tightly held beliefs about progress, technology and power.
Myers, Daniel J. (Summer 1994). Communication Technology and Social Movements: Contributions of Computer Networks to Activism. Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 250- 260.
Examines the contribution of computer-assisted communication and computer networks to the formation and functioning of social movements and collective behavior. Key characteristics of computer-mediated communication that have ramifications for social movements are outlined, highlighting potentially fruitful areas for research using the activist computer forum.
Nazer, Nancy, and Barry Wellman. (1998). Scholarly Networks in a Loosely Coupled Organization. International Sociological Association (ISA).
Analyzes the structure and operation of a multidisciplinary group of 16 internationally dispersed scholars by focusing on the interplay between computer networks and the social networks that operate over them. These scholars collaborate on important and complex problems in the physical and human sciences. Their collaboration is examined using different types of computer-mediated communication technologies, as well as more traditional means of communication, eg, face-to-face meetings, phone, mail, fax. The development of relationships among the participants is traced, and the extent to which new ties are formed and whether these tend to be strong ties of collaboration or weaker ties of mutual awareness are considered. In addition, the association between different types of ties and content and flow of information and resources is examined. Focus is on how involvement in these computer-supported scholarly network groups affects (1) the composition, structure, and content of working and sociable relationships among scholars; and (2) knowledge transfer, information flows, mutual awareness, and scholarly productivity.
Notess, Greg R. (Jul/Aug 1999). Communications and Community on Web sites. Online, Vol. 23, No. 4, p. 65-68.
The communication side of the Net is often the most important to many Net users. Communication and building a sense of community revolve around many different online approaches: email, chat sessions, discussion forums, Usenet news, guest books, and email lists. Being aware of the various approaches to the new Internet communication tools is useful for several reasons. For Web site builders, many of the tools can be used to build a virtual community component. Establishing online communication mechanisms for a Web site helps induce visitors to return to a site more frequently. For the content managers of Web sites, the communication tools can be used to notify clients, customers, patrons, and other users when the Web site changes, is updated, or moves. The use of guest books, forums or message boards, email, Usenet and Chat in Web sites is discussed.
Okleshen, C., and S. Grossbart. (1998). Usenet Groups, Virtual Community and Consumer Behaviors. Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 25, p. 276-282.
Suggestions that Usenet users represent virtual communities make assumptions about use and perceptions of on-line sites. This study examines on-line use (posting and lurking), perceived membership, perceived information value, and changes in behavior due to Usenet groups. Results indicate that more active participants are more apt to: post, see themselves as members, and value and act on information from the group. Posting, but not lurking, is related to perceived membership. Perceived value of information from the group mediates the relationship between perceived membership and changes in consumer behavior. Findings raise questions about depictions of Usenet groups as virtual communities.
Olaniran, Bolanle A. (Feb 1994). Group Performance in Computer-Mediated and Face-to-Face Communication Media. Management Communication Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 256-281.
Explores the effects of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and face-to-face (FTF) media on group performance under 4 experimental conditions involving undergraduates: CMC-only, FTF-only, FTF/CMC, and CMC/FTF groups. Results indicate that, in general, CMC groups generate a greater number of unique ideas than do FTF groups. However, the CMC effect was greater with CMC/FTF groups. Also, CMC groups take longer to reach consensus than FTF groups. Decision quality was greater in both FTF/CMC and CMC/FTF groups than in either CMC- and FTF-only groups. This affirms the need to explore group decision making as a non-unitary process and the need to combine FTF/CMC media for better group performance.
Ono, R., and K. Aoki. (Nov 1998). Convergence and New Regulatory Frameworks: A Comparative Study of Regulatory Approaches to Internet Telephony. Telecommunications Policy, Vol. 22, No. 10, p. 817-838.
As an archetype of convergence, Internet telephony has been questioning the continuing appropriateness of the current telecommunications policy and regulation. This article examines how policy makers and regulators in the US, the EU, Japan and Singapore have responded to the challenges brought about by Internet telephony. Their common approach seems to apply the existing regulatory framework to this new service. The authors argue that those responses will not be aligned with the dynamically changing communications environment and explain two key shifts taking place in the communications industry that should be taken into account to form more appropriate regulatory frameworks.
Paccagnella, Luciano. (1997). How to Regulate the Use of Electronically Registered Messages in Research on Computer-Assisted Communication? Quaderni-di-Sociologia, Vol. 41, No. 15, p. 159 -163.
Provides a phenomenological, social constructionist perspective on themes addressed by recently published, mainly structuralist-oriented articles about electronic communications networks, focusing on social networks analysis and contents of electronic messages. Enrica Capussotti's ((1997) [see 9804999]) article on the possibilities of research on electronic networks as places and virtual communities as social constructions is examined. While her analysis of the language used in the Italian cyberpunk Usenet group is some indication of the nature of the virtual community, it is noted that many posters to newsgroups sign messages with pseudonyms. Concerns about monitoring messages posted to the newsgroups involve ease of obtaining large amounts of personal data, recognition research validity by the studied subjects, and ethical guidelines for collecting social science data in cyberspace.
Paccagnella, Luciano. (1997). A Cyberspace Sociology: A Case Study of a Cyberpunk Electronic Conference; Quaderni di Sociologia, Vol. 41, No. 13, p. 33-57.
Recognizing that computer-mediated communications have a significant impact on political and social structures in Italy, the relevance of the cyberpunk conference on the national Cybernet network is discussed. As a forum for discussion of specific interests, the conference was examined, 1993/94, for size of messages posted, number of users, reciprocated links, analog vs digital content of messages, and number of smile-face emoticons. After noting the gradual diversification during lifespan of this virtual community, it is found that the impact of computer-mediated communications depends on the symbolic values and the social climate generated by a particular group of persons at a specific time.
Paccagnella, Luciano. (1997). Language, Network Centrality, and Response to Crisis in On-line Life: A Case Study in the Italian Cyberpunk Computer Conference. The Information Society, Vol. 14, No. 2.
The unobtrusive application of some techniques of research (namely, network analysis and content analysis) permits us to quantitatively identify some aspects of the social "climate" and context which govern a particular group of people interacting with each other through computers: the Italian cyber_punk computer conference has been analyzed over a period of nineteen months, through a succession of crises and moments of renewal. Monthly variations in the network measurements observed (density, reciprocity of links, etc.) may be taken as a "barometer" of the social liveliness of the conference. The analysis of the lexicon used in the messages reveals the presence of an underlying "analogical" linguistic component and of strategies for the construction of one's own social presence despite the seemingly limited possibilities of expression offered by the net. Used together, both techniques describe the expectations related e.g. to the roles of newcomer or leader. Conclusions include: a) a proposed framework to explain the relationship between experiences and friendships acquired on-line and in real life b) considerations about the role of small virtual communities (such as the one analyzed here) in the general organization and development of global on-line society c) comments on the possible impact of off-line, real-world society upon the culture developed so far in cyberspace.
Paccagnella, Luciano. (June 1997). Getting the Seats of Your Pants Dirty: Strategies for Ethnographic Research on Virtual Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 1.
The study of social worlds built by people on computer networks challenges the classical dimensions of sociological research. CMC scholars are prompted to exploit the possibilities offered by new, powerful, and flexible analytic tools for inexpensively collecting, organizing, and exploring digital data. Such tools could be used within a Weberian perspective, to aid in systematic examination of logs and messages taken from the actual life of a virtual community. A proposal can then be made for a longitudinal strategy of research which systematically compares specific aspects of virtual communities over different periods of time and different socio- geographical contexts. The article summarizes a case study on an Italian computer conference, and concludes with a short outline of the new graphical CMC environments and their consequences for the rise of a multimedia cyber-anthropology.
Paolillo, John. (June 1999). The Virtual Speech Community: Social Network and Language Variation on IRC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, No. 4.
Many scholars anticipate that online interaction will have a long-term effect on the evolution of language, but little linguistic research yet addresses this question directly. In sociolinguistics, social network relations are recognized as the principal vehicle of language change. In this paper, I develop a social network approach to online language variation and change through qualitative and quantitative analysis of logfiles of Internet Relay Chat interaction. The analysis reveals a highly structured relationship between participants' social positions on a channel and the linguistic variants they use. The emerging sociolinguistic relationship is more complex than what is predicted by current sociolinguistic theory for offline interaction, suggesting that sociolinguistic investigation of online interaction, where more detailed and fine-grained information about social contacts can be obtained, may offer unique contributions to the study of language variation and change.
Parks, Malcolm R., Kory Floyd. (Winter 1996). Making Friends in Cyberspace. Journal of Communication, Vol. 46, No. 1, p. 80-97.
Examines computer-mediated communication as a means for people to meet and develop in-depth personal relationships. Data drawn from questionnaires completed by members of 24 news groups (N = 176, ages 15-57) reveal that personal relationships are commonplace. The original assumption that online communication is a narrow means of information exchange due to technical limitations is challenged. Through experience, Internet users have developed aural and visual social context cues by adapting to their cyberspace environments (eg, punctuation symbol - -) - to represent a smile). Progression of relationships from impersonal to personal is examined, and interdependence, extent of interaction, interpersonal predictability, understanding, and commitment were all found to be possible. Online relationships frequently migrated to other forms of communication, eg, postal mail, telephone, and face-to-face contact.
Parks, M.R., and L.D. Roberts. (August 1998). Making MOOsic: The Development of Personal Relationships Online and a Comparison to their Offline Counterparts. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 517-537.
Despite the rapid development of the Internet over the past decade and the associated media hyperbole about cyberspace relationships, there is a paucity of systematic research examining the prevalence, type and development of personal relationships in on-line settings. This research examines relational topography in real-time text-based virtual environments known as MOOs (Multi-User Dimensions, Object Oriented). Current users of MOOs (235) completed a survey on MOO relationships, with 155 also completing a survey on offline relationships. Almost all survey respondents (93.6%) had formed ongoing personal relationships on MOOs. The most commonly reported types of relationships were close friendships, friendships and romances. The majority of relationships formed (83.6%) was with members of the opposite sex. Levels of relational development (interdependence, depth, breadth, code change, commitment, predictability/understanding, network convergence) were typically moderate to high. Most relationships had migrated to other virtual environments, and a third had resulted in face-to- face meetings. On average, MOO relationships were found to be more developed than newsgroup relationships, but less developed than off-line relationships. It was concluded that MOOs provide an inherently social and powerful context for the formation of personal relationships, many of which will transfer to other settings.
Pfaffenberger, Bryan. (1996). If I Want it, It's OK: Usenet and the (Outer) Limits of Free Speech. The Information Society, Vol. 12, No. 4, p. 365-386.
Usenet is an international communications system composed of thousands of topically named discussion groups, called newsgroups, which enable anyone with an Internet connection and the proper software to read messages, post new messages, or reply to e xisting ones. Remarkable for its culture of anything-goes free speech, Usenet tradition recognizes only one kind of legitimate restriction on content: that which is abusive to the Net's ability to function as an effective discussion system. This consensus stems from a long and often painful struggle, as Usenet's designers, administrators, and users attempted to comprehend, define, and govern the communication system they had created. The result is a forum that is not quite as free as Usenet's defenders li ke to imagine, and one given to excesses that seem destined to attract the attention of government censors.
Phillips, David J. (1996). Defending the Boundaries: Identifying and Countering Threats in a Usenet Newsgroup. The Information Society, Vol.12, No. 1, p. 39-62.
An account of a Usenet newsgroup whose participants, in response to a perceived invasion of barbarians, explored and articulated the value of the group, the nature of the crisis facing it, and the strategies available to meet the crisis is presented. The newsgroup facilitated political and personal support for some gay, lesbian, or bisexual men and women. The primary threat to the group was the increasing number of newcomers who were oblivious to established norms, who tended to view access to the group as a commodity, and who attempted to impose outside paradigms on the operations of the group. Defensive strategies involved calling on rhetorical devices or structural resources. All strategies had the potential to backfire, but rhetorical strategies were less risky, more available, and more community affirming than strategies requiring access to structural resources. Through this account, the mutual linkages and dependencies between the social and technical organization of computer-mediated communication networks, the community-building activities taking place through those networks, and the social, legal, economic structures in which those networks are embedded are addressed.
Postmes, T. R. Spears, and M. Lea. (Dec 1998). Breaching or Building Social Boundaries: Side-effects of Computer-mediated Communication. Communication Research, Vol. 25, No. 6, p. 689- 715.
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is sometimes heralded for its power to break down social boundaries and to liberate individuals from social influence, group pressure, and status and power differentials that characterize much face-to-face interaction. We review research conducted within the framework of the social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE) demonstrating that this is not always the case. When communicators share a common social identity, they appear to be more susceptible to group influence, social attraction stereotyping, gender typing, and discrimination in anonymous CMC. Although CMC gives us the opportunity to traverse social boundaries, paradoxically, it can also afford these boundaries greater power, especially when they define self- and group identity.
Rafaeli, Sheizaf, and Fay Sudweeks. (March 1997). Networked Interactivity. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 4.
What makes computer-mediated groups tick and/or stick? To what degree are computer-mediated discussants really sustained "groups"? Does the grouping quality reflect anything beyond technical structure? Are technical structure and grouping related? How do threads define groups, or vice-versa? Does any of this change between academic and commercial networks?
We propose that one useful perspective for studying group computer-mediated communication (CMC) is interactivity. Interactivity is a theoretical construct that grapples with the origins of captivation, fascination, and allure that can be inherent in computer-mediated groups. In the coded data from the sample of messages collected by ProjectH, we have a representative snapshot of communication among the very large groups populating the networks. The central unit of interest in studying computer mediated groups is, in this case, the thread of messages. A message thread is a chain of interrelated messages. Rather than individuals' self-report, linguistic and sociolinguistic analyses of content, or observational data of larger units, we examine interactivity, the dependency among messages in threads.
Results indicate that the content on the net is less confrontational than is popularly believed: conversations are more helpful and social than competitive. Interactive messages seem to be more humorous, contain more self-disclosure, display a higher preference for agreement and contain many more first-person plural pronouns. This indicates that interactivity plays a role in the social dynamics of group CMC, and sheds a light on comparing interactive messages with conversation. The focus, we propose, should be on the glue: that which keeps message threads and their authors together, and what makes the groups and their interaction tick.
Rasmussen, Terje, Per Helmersen, Jorgen Bang, Knut Lundby, and Bjarne Skov. (1994). Distanciated Discourse: Computer-Mediated Communication in Nordic Media Research Education: PROFF. Nordicom Review, Vol. 2, p. 63-70.
An appraisal of the experience of PROFF (Nordic Program for Research Education in Media and Communication Studies), an electronic network created to heighten collaboration among Nordic researchers and, more specifically, to contribute to the education of doctoral students. Not only technical aspects of conferencing should be considered in this type of projects, but of equal importance for a successful program are social elements of motivation, need, and priority. In effect, the initial failure of the project had as much to do with inadequacies in software and hardware as with lacking social conditions for a broad communication environment. Suggestions include: structured research education courses, combining computer conferencing with face-to-face seminars, replacement of conference systems by mailing lists on Internet, and training for tutors.
Reid, Elizabeth. (1996). Informed Consent in the Study of On-Line Communities: A Reflection on the Effects of Computer-Mediated Social Research. The Information Society, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 169-174.
In studying on-line communities, researchers must consider the unique environmental factors involved in order to minimize potential harm to human subjects. In particular, the often commented upon disinhibiting effect of computer-mediated communication can encourage people to agree to or even insist on a kind of public exposure by which they may eventually be harmed. On the Internet, where perceptions of interpersonal affect and effects may be obscured by the nature of the medium itself, care must be taken to guard against not only any increased tendency for researchers to objectify subjects, but also the tendency for subjects to underestimate the potential consequences of consent. The criteria for informed consent that may be sufficient in face-to-face research environments are not necessarily so in a medium in which subjective experience is easily objectified and information is easily devalued.
Ribeiro, Gustavo Lins. (Nov 1997). Transnational Virtual Community? Exploring Implications for Culture, Power and Language. Organization, Vol. 4, No. 4, p. 496-505.
The current development of a transnational virtual community and the ramifications of transnationalism on culture, language, and authority are investigated. Benedict Anderson's (1991) notion of an imagined community is differentiated from a virtual community; ie, the latter occupies an intermediate position between ion and reality. It is suggested that the worldwide computer network, especially the Internet, functions as the technological and symbolic foundation for a transnational virtual community. Although egalitarianism is an objective of transnationalism, it is contended that a transnational virtual democracy is impeded by several factors, eg, computer costs and English-language dominance. Although falling short of Edward Sapir's (1956) notion of an international auxiliary language, computer English, defined as a creole incapable of supplanting other national languages, has accelerated a "debabelization" process. It is concluded that novel conceptions of citizenship must be conceived to challenge the emergence of new forms of hegemony.
Riedel, E., L. Dresel, M.J. Wagoner, J.L. Sullivan, and E. Borgida. (Winter 1998). Electronic Communities: Assessing Equality of Access in a Rural Minnesota Community. Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 16, No. 4, p. 370-390.
The recent implementation of a community electronic network is examined. The network is intended to help the rural community of Grand Rapids in northern Minnesota keep up with global technological progress. The present study is a baseline examination of social, political, and technological conditions in the community. Changes in social capital are hypothesized as a result of the wide-area network, Focus groups and survey research are used to assess inequalities in knowledge, access, and use of technologies as they relate to underlying inequalities in socioeconomic status and social capital. Results suggest that initial adoption of technological advances occurs among those with greater resources, Those with resources of social, but not necessarily economic, capital follow suit once an opportunity arises. Among the implications of the study's findings is that citizens lacking such resources need to be actively recruited into using the new technology as a means to bolster their existing resources.
Rintel, E. S., and J. Pittam. (June 1997). Strangers in a Strange Land: Interaction Management on Internet Relay Chat. Human Communication Research, Vol. 23, No. 4, p. 507-534.
This article examines a set of interactions (logs) taken from the form of computer-mediated communication known as Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The authors were particularly concerned with the interaction management strategies adopted by the participants in the logs during the opening and closing phases of the interactions to develop interpersonal relationships and communicate socioemotional content, as illustrated by their attempts to initiate and/or close interactions with others using the medium. The article compares these strategies and their structure with those proposed for face-to-face (FTF) interactions and proposes an explanatory framework for the interaction management of opening and closing phases on IRC. It is suggested that interaction management in these phases of IRC logs is similar to that in casual group FTF interaction in terms of the general functions of the strategies used, but that the content, structure, and ordering of the strategies are subject to adaptation.
Riva, G. and C. Galimberti. (Nov 1998). Computer-mediated Communication: Identity and Social Interaction in an Electronic Environment. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, Vol. 124, No. 4, p. 434-464.
Social scientists are increasingly interested in understanding the characteristics of computer-mediated communication and its effects on people, groups, and organizations. The Ist effect of this influence is the revolution in the metaphors used to describe communication. In this article, these changes are described. Then a framework is outlined for the study of computer-mediated communication. The 3 psychosocial roots of the process by which interaction between users is constructed-networked reality, virtual conversation, and identity construction -are discussed. The implications of these changes for current research in communication studies are also considered, with particular reference to the role of context, the link between cognition and interaction, and the use of interlocutory models as paradigms of communicative interaction. Communication is seen not only as a transfer of information, but also as the activation of a psychosocial relationship, the process by which interlocutors co-construct an area of reality.
Rodino, Michelle. (Sep 1997). Breaking out of Binaries: Reconceptualizing Gender and its Relationship to Language in Computer-Mediated Communication. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 3.
Virtual environments provide a rich testing ground for theories of gender and language. This paper analyzes interactions in one virtual environment, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), to look at the extent to which research on face-to-face (FTF) talk and computer-mediated communication (CMC) can describe gender and its relationship to language. Neither the function of utterances nor the construction of gender adheres to dualistic descriptions, as past research has implied. Reconceptualizing gender as performative helps researchers break out of binary categories that have bound past research. Conceiving of gender as under constant construction also helps demystify and thus disrupt the binary gender system which naturalizes patriarchy.
Rothkopf, David. (1998). Cyberpolitik: The Changing Nature of Power in the Information Age. Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 51, No. 2, p. 325-359.
In the past, political power was drawn alternatively or in combination from the strength of leaders and institutions, the will of the people and/or the support the nation state could win from other nation states. Today, those pillars of power are being shaken by tectonic shifts that are transforming the very nature of global society. Nation states are facing new rivals for power and influence on the global stage. Power itself is being redistributed, taking new forms and new characteristics. The rules of the game in international relations are changing and the origins of an extraordinary number of those changes can be traced to the Information Revolution. That revolution has only just begun. Its full extent and implications are unclear. However, for the US, the ability to remain the world's leader will depend on its ability to recognize the changes transforming the nature of power in the new world environment and adapt to them.
Rowe, John Carlos. (1996). Cybercowboys on the New Frontier: Freedom, Nationalism, and Imperialism in the Postmodern Era. The Information Society.12(3): 309-314.
In Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age ((1995)), Dyson, Gilder, Keyworth, and Toffler argue passionately for new government regulatory practices in communications, new laws to adjudicate and protect rights to informational property, and a general reconceptualization of social and political life in terms of the "Third Wave" economy. Like other libertarian arguments, Cyberspace repeatedly confuses the individual with the people, assuming that civil rights and individual rights are the same thing. Su ch a strategic confusion is designed by the authors to reaffirm US nationalism of the sort that was invented primarily to legitimate the Second Wave economy they argue is on the verge of extinction. The social philosophy endorsed by these libertarians d iffers little from the liberal progressivism of 19th-century industrial America and threatens to repeat all of the sins committed in the era in the name of progress and individual rights.
Ryan, Alan. (Fall 1997). Exaggerated Hopes and Baseless Fears. Social Research, Vol. 64, No. 3, p. 1167-1190.
Examines two contentious thoughts on the relationship between technology and culture: (1) the idea that new forms of communicative technology can create a virtual community and (2) the response of individuals to new forms of electronic communication. It is argued that the use of the term community to refer to electronic forms of interaction is inappropriate, as true community cannot be created solely via the Internet and e-mail. The proliferation of electronic forms of communication has also led to fears that it will negatively impact freedom of speech by allowing for the proliferation of simplistic or nonsensical communication. It is concluded that these latter fears are excessive, although human ability to communicate on matters of public import and to form true community has declined.
Savicki, V., M. Kelley, and D. Lingenfelter. (Winter 1996). Gender, Group Composition, and Task Type in Small Task Groups Using Computer-mediated Communication. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 12, No. 4, p. 549-565.
In small (4-6 member), online task groups two factors were varied: (a) group composition, in terms of the gender of the group members, and (b) assigned tasks, in terms of the content and amount of cooperation required. Gender group composition included female only (FO), male only (MO), and evenly mixed male and female (MIX)I groups. The two task conditions included a 'feminine'-content, decision-making or a 'masculine'-content, intellective task. Groups came to consensus on the task answer using only asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC). It was predicted that FO and MO groups would demonstrate communication and satisfaction differences as a function of task assigned as well as group composition. Group composition was related to many group process variables in significant ways; however, in general, task differences were less strong. FO groups, regardless of task, sent more words per message, were more satisfied with the group process, and reported higher levels of group development than either MIX or MO groups. However, both task and gender composition variables were related to various measures of choice of language. Mixed results with regard to gender composition and choice of language require a further examination of gender effects on CMC as occurring in small task groups. Choice of language relation to task type were generally opposite of predictions and require clarification of task distinctions and methodologies used. The significance of the results lies in defining the styles of communicating in the CMC context that will enhance group development.
Savicki, V., D. Lingenfelter, and M. Kelley. (December 1996). Gender, Language, Style, and Group Composition in Internet Discussion Groups. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 3.
This study focuses on group gender composition and the seeming relatedness between gender roles and group process functions described as task and maintenance, as found on the Internet. The sample was drawn from randomly selected set of 27 online discussion groups from both the Internet and from commercial information services (e.g. Compuserv) using the ProjectH dataset. The 2692 valid messages were coded for language content (fact, apology, first person flaming, status, etc.) that has been related to gender role in other research. Each message was also coded regarding the gender of its author. Results held with the conventional impression that men far outnumber women as participants in online discussion groups. However, results were mixed in regard to the relation of language patterns and group gender composition. Gender composition was related to patterns of computer mediated communication in this context. However, there were an unexpectedly high proportion of participants of indeterminate gender in this dataset, it is difficult to test the hypotheses with precision. However, the sample is comprised of "real-life" groups, so what is lost in experimental control is compensated for in generalization to other uncontrolled settings.
Savicki, V., M. Kelley, and E. Oesterreich. (Mar 1999). Judgments of Gender in Computer- Mediated Communication. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 15, No. 2, p. 185-194.
One of the most intriguing questions studied recently in the field of computer-mediated communication (CMC) has been how communicators establish a 'social presence' in the absence of non-verbal cues which are relied upon heavily in face to face communication. One important area of social presence is the understanding of the gender of each of the participants in a conversation. Herring has speculated that, because of differential language cues, men and women can be identified in text-based messages (Herring, S.C. . Gender and democracy in computer-mediated communication. Electronic Journal of Communication [Online], 3(2). Available: http://www.cios.org/getfile\Herring-v3n293). The present study investigated the ability of readers of CMC messages to identify the gender of the author when messages were selected for language characteristics identified in previous studies (Savicki, V., Kelley, M. and Lingenfelter, D. [(1996)]. Gender, group composition and task type in small task groups using computer mediated-communication. Computers in Human Behavior, 12, 549-565.) as being associated with both group development and gender. Twenty messages from previous research were sorted into gender groups and into high and low communication style categories. Participants were asked their perception of the probable gender of the message author and their certainty of that judgment. Accuracy and certainty of judgments of gender showed significant differences between gender-communication style conditions. However, overall accuracy and certainty of judgments were not related. Neither was there a difference in accuracy or certainty of judgments between male and female judges. Finally, judges' accuracy followed gender stereotypes for messages sent by men, but were opposed to the stereotype for messages sent by women.
Schiano, D. J. (1997). Convergent Methodologies in Cyber-Psychology: A Case Study. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, Vol. 29, No. 2, p. 270-273.
On-line communities, and especially MUDs (multiuser domains) are a popular, growing Internet phenomenon. This paper provides an overview of a project designed to provide a careful characterization of what ''life'' is like in LambdaMOO-a classic social MUD-for most, or at least many, members. A ''convergent-methodologies'' approach embracing qualitative and quantitative, subjective and objective methods was used to generate a large and rich database on this on-line community in terms of four general categories: (1) user; and use, (2)sociality, (3) identity, and (4) spatiality. The evidence thus far appears to debunk some of the more provocative claims of widespread MUD addiction and rampant identity fragmentation on line. While supporting the primary importance of sociality in the MUD, the results also demonstrate the strong prevalence of personal, one-on-one social interactions over larger social gatherings. Finally, some close correspondences between patterns of spatial behavior and spat tial cognition ''in real life'' and in LambdaMOO were found.
Schiano, D.J. (April 1999). Lessons from Lambdamoo: A Social, Text-based Virtual Environment. Presence-Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 127-139.
The growing use of the Internet to provide a sense of personal connection and community is converging with the development of shared virtual spaces. In particular, the strong popularity of Multi-User Domains (MUDs), text-based networked virtual worlds, suggests the high premium many people place on social interactivity in their virtual environments. The project described in this paper was designed to broadly characterize what life in LambdaMOO-a classic, social, text-based MUD-is like for many of its members. A comprehensive, data-driven approach was used to explore topics including user and use characteristics, identity and gender role-play, sociality, and spatiality. A rich database of results was gathered. The findings demonstrate a striking and increasingly strong focus on social interaction, even at the expense of spatial navigation. Moreover, contrary to expectations, small, private, even exclusive social interactions were the rule, not the exception. In addition, provocative claims regarding the prevalence of identity and gender role-play were shown not to hold, at least for most people, in this classic social MUD. Finally, some intriguing results regarding the sense of place and space in a purely text-based virtual environment are presented. Taken together, these data shed light on robust psychological and social patterns observed in a large-scale, social virtual world. In doing so, they can help inform the discourse on, and design of, related systems in the future.
Schroeder, Ralph C., and Raymond M. Lee. (1997). Networked Worlds: Social Aspects of Multi- User Virtual Reality Technology American Sociological Association (ASA).
Examines two aspects of multiuser virtual reality systems: the social and technological shaping of these systems, and social interaction inside virtual worlds. Following an overview of the history of networked interactive computer graphics and the range of networked virtual reality projects to date, key factors that are currently shaping virtual reality systems and will play a role in determining their future are considered. This provides the background for exploring what is distinctive about the social relations between users inside virtual worlds. Some links are made with findings from studies of other new technologies for computer-mediated communication. Drawing these areas together gives an indication of the prospects for multi-user virtual reality technologies and their social implications.
Shapiro, Andrew L. (July 3, 1995). Street Corners in Cyberspace. The Nation, p. 10-14.
Thought-provoking and politically loaded, this essay takes on the all-too-familiar claim that the Internet is an inherently democratic technology. Shapiro, a writer and a frequent contributor to The Nation, supports his argument by introducing two models of cyberspace. The first, Cyberkeley, reflects an active public sphere, a virtual place where "most people are just passing through, though you and they can't help but take notice of the debaters, the demonstrators, even the leafleters" (10). The second model, Cyberbia, is marked by the absence of a vibrant public space, a place where "you can shape your route so that you interact only with people of your choosing and with information tailored to your desires" (10). Shapiro continues by lamenting that today's Net resembles more Cyberbia than Cyberkeley. The author concludes by arguing for government intervention to insure public discourse in place of the virtual shopping malls offered by the likes of AOL and Compuserve.
Shapiro, Andrew L. (June 21, 1999). The Net that Binds: Using Cyberspace to Create Real Communities. The Nation.
One of the curious things about living through a time of whirlwind change is that it is often difficult to understand exactly what is changing. In recent years, new technology has given us the ability to transform basic aspects of our lives: the way we converse and learn; the way we work, play and shop; even the way we participate in political and social life. Dissidents around the world use the Internet to evade censorship and get their message out. Cyber-gossips send dispatches to thousands via e-mail. Musicians bypass record companies and put their songs on the Web for fans to download directly. Day traders roil the stock market, buying securities online with the click of a mouse and selling minutes later when the price jumps.
There is a common thread underlying such developments. It is not just a change in how we compute or communicate. Rather, it is a potentially radical shift in who is in control--of information, experience and resources. The Internet is allowing individuals to make decisions that once were made by governments, corporations and the media. To an unprec-edented degree, we can decide what news and entertainment we're exposed to and whom we socialize with. We can earn a living in new ways; we can take more control of how goods are distributed; and we can even exercise a new degree of political power. The potential for personal growth and social progress seems limitless. Yet what makes this shift in power--this control revolution--so much more authentic than those revolutions described by techno-utopian futurists is its volatility and lack of preordained outcome.
Contrary to the claims of cyber-romantics, democratic empowerment via technology is not inevitable. Institutional forces are resisting, and will continue to resist, giving up control to individuals. And some people may wield their new power carelessly, denying themselves its benefits and imperiling democratic values. Nowhere are the mixed blessings of the new individual control more evident than in the relationship of the Internet to communities--not just "virtual communities" of dispersed individuals interacting online but real, geographically based communities.
Smith, Christine B., Margaret L. McLaughlin, and Kerry K. Osborne. (March 1997). Conduct Control on Usenet. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 4.
In this paper we explore the nature of offensive conduct and its treatment on Usenet. Specifically, we examine the frequency, form, and tone of reproaches for misconduct on five newsgroups: rec.arts.tv.soaps; soc.motss; soc.singles; rec.sports.hockey; and comp.sys.ibm.pc.games. Where possible, subsequent accounts offered by offenders are also examined. Results indicate that few individuals respond publicly to their reproachers and that complete "traditional" remedial episodes in Usenet are relatively rare. Discriminant analysis supports a tentative conclusion that different offense types elicit reproaches which vary in form and tone. Furthermore, the tenor and frequency of reproaches for particular offenses vary according to newsgroup, supporting the thesis that norm violations are differentially treated in Usenet "communities." The analyses and discussion include an examination of gender differences in the newsgroups studied.
Smith, Marc A., and Peter Kollock. (1994). Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities. American Sociological Association (ASA).
The recent development of virtual communities, sites of social interaction predominantly mediated by computers and telecommunications networks, provides a unique opportunity to study the mechanisms by which collectivities generate and maintain the commitment of their participants in a new social terrain. Using the analytical framework developed in studies of intentional communities and collective action dilemmas, examined are the unique obstacles to collective action and the commitment mechanisms used to overcome them in a particular virtual community, the WELL. Ethnographic and interview data are drawn on to evaluate this community in terms of its capacity, or lack thereof, to overcome obstacles to organization and elicit appropriate participation in the production of desired collective goods.
Soukup, Charles. (Jul-Sep 1999). The Gendered Interactional Patterns of Computer- Mediated Chatrooms: A Critical Ethnographic Study. Information Society, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 169-176.
The gendered discourse of social-based computer-mediated contexts is explored. Specifically, the critical ethnography explicates the patterns of discourse of both a sports-related (masculine-dominated) and a female-based (feminine-dominated) chatroom. Through the participant observations, it is discovered that traditionally masculine and feminine forms of discourse dominate the chatrooms. Furthermore, the groups constructed and maintained normative forms of behavior. Masculine participants were aggressive, argumentative and power oriented. While feminine participants sought relationships and intimacy, they were often dominated and overpowered by the aggressive discourse of the masculine members. The findings have significant implications for the construction of gender in cyberspace, the normative behavior of computer- mediated communication, and power and gender in the use of technology. This study explores the gendered discourse of social-based computer-mediated contexts. Specifically, the critical ethnography explicates the patterns of discourse of both a sports-related (masculine-dominated) chatroom and a female-based (feminine-dominated) chatroom. Through the participant observations, the researcher discovered that traditionally masculine and feminine forms of discourse dominate the chatrooms. Furthermore, the groups constructed and maintained nonnative forms of behavior. Masculine participants were aggressive, argumentative, and power oriented. While feminine participants sought relationships and intimacy, they were often dominated and overpowered by the aggressive discourse of the masculine members. The findings have significant implications for the construction of gender in cyberspace, the normative behavior of computer-mediated communication, and power and gender in the use of technology.
Spears, Russell, and Martin Lea. (Aug 1994). Panacea or Panopticon? The Hidden Power in Computer-Mediated Communication. Communication Research, Vol. 21, No. 4, p. 427-459.
Examines how interaction by means of computer-mediated communication (CMC) affects the operation of both status differentials and power relations. A corrective is provided to the dominant assessment that CMC tends to equalize status, decentralize and democratize decision making, and thus empower and liberate the individual user. This emphasis contrasts with sociological critiques employing the Foucauldian metaphor of the panopticon, claiming that power relations can actually be reinforced in CMC. It is argued that prevailing conceptualizations of influence and power within social psychology have tended to prefigure the more optimistic account. A theoretical framework is outlined in which processes of "panoptic power" in CMC are given a more concrete social psychological foundation.
Streck, John M. (Fall 1997). Pulling the Plug on Electronic Town Meetings: Participatory Democracy and the Reality of the Usenet. New Political Science, Vol. 41-42, p. 17-46.
Drawing on the interactions commonly found on Usenet newsgroups and e-mail listservs, the conventional wisdom that computer-mediated communication is potentially, if not necessarily, democratic and participatory is challenged. Specifically, it is argued that essential and unavoidable characteristics of human interaction and communication place severe limits on the levels of diversity and equality that are experienced on the Internet. Most significantly, interaction between individuals necessarily produces a history that in turn becomes the basis for social hierarchy. It is concluded that whatever democratic potentials exist in cyberspace, the translation of those potentials into nonvirtual worlds is problematic at best.
Stuhlmacher, Alice F., and Amy E. Walters. (Autumn 1999). Gender Differences in Negotiation Outcome: A Meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, Vol. 52, No. 3, p. 653-677.
Studies reporting the objective settlements obtained by men and women in negotiations are reviewed. Differences in outcomes are expected due to differences in perceptions, behaviors, and contextual factors between men and women. In the sample of studies, men negotiated significantly better outcomes than women. Opponent sex, relative power of the negotiator, integrative potential of the task, mode of communication and year of the study were tested as moderators of the effect. Although the overall difference in outcomes between men and women are small, none of these hypothesized moderators or several explanatory moderators reversed or eliminated this effect. The organizational significance of these findings is discussed in terms of the glass ceiling, a gender-based earnings differential and women in negotiation positions.
Tan, Bernard C. Y., Kwok-Kee Wei, Richard T. Watson, and Rita M. Walczuch. (Summer 1998). Reducing Status Effects with Computer-mediated Communication: Evidence from Two Distinct National Cultures. Journal of Management Information Systems. Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 119-141.
Matching laboratory experiments were conducted in two distinct national cultures to investigate whether computer-mediated communication (CMC) can reduce status effects during group communication in both national cultures. Three independent variables were studied: national culture (Singapore versus U.S.), task type (intellective versus preference), and communication medium (unsupported versus CMC). Three different facets of status effects were measured as dependent variables: status influence, sustained influence, and perceived influence. Singapore groups reported higher sustained influence than U.S. groups. Preference task groups experienced higher status influence and sustained influence than intellective task groups. Unsupported groups also had higher status influence and sustained influence compared to CMC groups. In addition, Singapore groups that completed the preference task in the unsupported setting reported higher perceived influence than groups under other treatments. These results demonstrate that CMC appears to be able to reduce status effects during group communication, both in Singapore and in the United States. This is especially true when groups are working on a preference task. Moreover, status influence appears to be more sustainable in Singapore groups, where group members appear to be more conscious of its presence, than in U.S. groups.
Tan, Bernard C.Y., Kwok-Kee Wei, Richard T. Watson, Danial L. Clapper, and Ephraim R. McLean. (Sep 1998). Computer-mediated Communication and Majority Influence: Assessing the Impact in an Individualistic and a Collectivistic Culture. Management Science, Vol. 44, No. 9, p. 1263- 1278.
Strong majority influence can potentially harm organizational decisions by causing decision makers to engage in groupthink. This study examines whether and how computer-mediated communication (CMC) can reduce majority influence and thereby enhance the quality of decisions in some situations. To measure the impact of CMC on majority influence, three settings (unsupported, face-to-face CMC, and dispersed CMC) were compared. Matching laboratory experiments were carried out in an individualistic (the US) and a collectivistic culture (Singapore) to determine how the impact of CMC might be moderated by national culture. An intellective and a preference task were used to see whether the impact of CMC might be moderated by task type. The results showed that the impact of CMC on majority influence was contingent upon national culture. In the individualistic culture, majority influence was stronger in the unsupported setting than the face-to-face CMC and dispersed CMC settings. In the collectivistic culture, there were no corresponding differences. The results also revealed that the impact of CMC on majority influence was not moderated by task type. Instead, task type had a direct impact on majority influence. Regardless of the setting involved, majority influence was stronger with the preference than the intellective task. Besides demonstrating how cultural factors may moderate the impact of CMC, this study raises the broader issue of cultural relativism in current knowledge on CMC.
Townsend, Anthony M., Samuel M. DeMarie, and Anthony R. Hendrickson. (Aug 1998). Virtual Teams: Technology and the Workplace of the Future. The Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 12, No. 3, p. 17-29.
Virtual teams, which are linked primarily through advanced computer and telecommunications technologies, provide a potent response to the challenges associated with today's downsized and lean organizations, and to the resulting geographical dispersion of essential employees. Virtual teams also address new workforce demographics, where the best employees may be located anywhere in the world, and where workers demand increasing technological sophistication and personal flexibility. With virtual teams, organizations can build teams with optimum membership while retaining the advantages of flat organizational structure. Additionally, firms benefit from virtual teams through access to previously unavailable expertise, enhanced cross-functional interaction, and the use of systems that improve the quality of the virtual team's work.
Managers are challenged to develop strategically flexible organizations in response to increasingly competitive marketplaces. Fortunately, a new generation of information and telecommunications technology provides the foundation for resilient new organizational forms that would have not been feasible only a decade ago. One of the most exciting of these new forms, the virtual team, will enable organizations to become more flexible by providing the impressive productivity of team-based designs in environments where teamwork would have once been impossible.
Virtual teams, which are linked primarily through advanced computer and telecommunications technologies, provide a potent response to the challenges associated with today's downsized and lean organizations, and to the resulting geographical dispersion of essential employees. Virtual teams also address new workforce demographics, where the best employees may be located anywhere the world, and where workers demand increasing technological sophistication and personal flexibility. With virtual teams, organizations can build teams with optimum membership while retaining the advantages of flat organizational structure. Additionally, firms benefit from virtual teams through access to previously unavailable expertise, enhanced cross-functional interaction, and the use of systems that improve the quality of the virtual team's work.
Turkle, Sherry. (Winter 1996). Virtuality and its Discontents: Searching for Community in Cyberspace. The American Prospect, Vol. 24, p. 50 - 57.
If the politics of virtuality means democracy on-line and apathy off-line, there is reason for concern. There is also reason for concern when access to the new technology breaks down along traditional class lines. Although some inner-city communities have used computer-mediated communication as a tool for real community building, the overall trend seems to be the creation of an information elite.
Virtual environments are valuable as places where we can acknowledge our inner diversity. But we still want an authentic experience of self. One's fear is, of course, that in the culture of simulation, a word like authenticity can no longer apply. So even as we try to make the most of virtual environments, a haunting question remains. For me, that question is raised every time I use the MUD command for taking an action. The command is "emote." If I type "emote waves" while at Dred's café on LambdaMOO, the screens of all players in the MUD room will flash "ST waves." If I type "emote feels a complicated mixture of desire and expectation," all screens will flash "ST feels a complicated mixture of desire and expectation." But what exactly do I feel? Or, what exactly do I feel? When we get our MUD persona to "emote" something and observe the effect, do we gain a better understanding of our real emotions, which can't be switched on and off so easily, and which we may not even be able to describe? Or is the emote command and all that it stands for a reflection of what Fredric Jameson has called the flattening of affect in postmodern life?
Turkle, Sherry. (Winter 1997). Multiple Subjectivity and Virtual Community at the End of the Freudian Century. Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 67, No. 1, p. 72-84.
Analyzes how technology, specifically the Internet, is changing the traditional concept of how identity is defined by enhancing cultural trends such as multiplicity and flexibility. Multiuser dungeons or domains (MUDs) are network software programs that blur the distinction between real-life and fantasy by allowing the user to create serial characters online that represent individual traits of the user. The invention of windows, which place the user in a variety of virtual environments at the touch of a keystroke, contributes to this new perspective of identity. A parallel is drawn between Sigmund Freud's dreams and modern, computer-mediated society's ideas; both serve as tools to define multiple aspects of the self. An argument is raised that MUDs create a flexibility in an individual that allows for an exploration of the multiple assets of self without being labeled as suffering from personality disorder. Additionally, MUDs aid in the process of cycling through the various aspects that make up the concept of identity.
Turoff, Murray, and Starr Roxanne Hiltz. (July 1998). Superconnectivity. Association for Computing Machinery. Communications of the ACM,Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 116.
Once we have recognized the true nature of the Internet as a human communication system it becomes obvious that features like two-way linkages (such as each end of the link knowing about the other) and general purpose person-to-person money transfer capabilities are among the missing elements for the full potential of the network to blossom. When viewed as a communication system that gives, or should give, every user equal status as a communicator, then it becomes evident the most serious barrier to superconnectivity through the Web is information overload. Only through the design of the communication process and its support tools can that issue be addressed.
Valacich, J.S., A.R. Dennis, and T. Connolly. (March 1994). Idea Generation in Computer-based Groups: A New Ending to an Old Story. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 57, No. 3, p. 448-467.
Previous research on brainstorming and related idea-generating techniques has generally found interacting groups to produce fewer ideas than equivalent numbers of individuals working alone whose ideas are later pooled (i.e., nominal groups). In this paper we report four experiments. The first three contrast groups of various sizes using a computer-based idea generation system to equivalently sized nominal groups. The results of these experiments were consistent; large groups using a computer-based idea generation system out-performed equivalent nominal groups in idea-generating tasks. A fourth experiment is then reported which tests the primary hypothesis as to why groups using the computer-based idea generation system outperformed nominal groups. This study concluded that the elimination of production blocking in the computer-based groups (a problem common in groups that communicate verbally where only one member of the group can speak at a time) accounts for a significant portion of the enhanced productivity for the computer- based groups.
Virnoche, Mary E., and Gary T. Marx. (Winter 1997). Only Connect: E. M. Forster in an Age of Electronic Communication: Computer-Mediated Association and Community Networks. Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 67, No. 1, p. 85-100.
Constructs a framework for distinguishing various types of computer-mediated communities in order to analyze "community networks," ie, systems that electronically connect individuals who also share common geographic space. The analysis draws on field research conducted (1994)/95 via participation in and observation of the Boulder Community Network (an electronic discussion group and web site for the sociology department of the U of Colorado) and Local Net (an online discussion of worldwide community network advocates and organizers), supplemented by related primary and secondary sources. Problems concerning community networks as a locus of computer- mediated interaction are identified, and research directions that may enhance future sociological inquiries into the social understanding of community networks as well as other mediated associations are proposed.
Wachte, R.M. (Nov 1999). The Effect of Gender and Communication Mode on Conflict Resolution. Computers in Human Behaviour, Vol. 15, No. 6, p. 763-782.
This paper examines the effect of gender and conflict on the process and outcomes of people using various forms of communication media. Of interest in the study is the effect which gender exerts on the evaluation of the capability of the communication environment to provide relational support under conditions of conflict. It was predicted that members of female-only and male-only dyads would demonstrate satisfaction differences and variances in their ratings of the communication environment as a function of their gender distinctions. The results indicate that there were no differences in performance levels across media and gender composition. However, there was an interaction between media and gender concerning evaluations of the communication environment's ability to support affection, domination, similarity, and trust.
Walsh, John P., and Todd Bayma. (Aug 1996). Computer Networks and Scientific Work. Social Studies of Science, Vol. 26, No. 3, p. 661-703.
Explores the relationship between social context and technology by studying the incorporation of computer-mediated communication (CMC) across several fields. Data from interviews with 67 scientists in four fields indicate that computer network use differs substantially by field because of different social structures and work organizations. The results suggest that fields that consist of tightly coupled but geographically dispersed work groups (eg, particle physics) tend to adopt CMC more heavily than those where work is performed within relatively autonomous groups (eg, experimental biology). Also, fields that are more buffered from the market (mathematics) tend to use informal CMC, while those more tightly linked to commercial markets (chemistry) tend to limit use to formal CMC. These results support previous research in suggesting that the form of technological innovation depends on the context of use.
Walther, Joseph B. (June 1994). Anticipated Ongoing Interaction Versus Channel Effects on Relational Communication in Computer-mediated Interaction. Human Communication Research, Vol. 20, No. 4, p. 473-501.
Previous research on the interpersonal tone of computer-mediated communication shows different effects using longitudinal computer-mediated groups than are found in research using one-shot groups, even before the developmental aspects associated with time can accrue. One factor distinguishing these approaches is the anticipation of future interaction experienced by longitudinal groups. This research reports an experiment assessing the relative effects of anticipated future interaction and different communication media (computer-mediated versus face -to-face communication) on the communication of relational intimacy and composure. Asynchronous and synchronous computer conferencing and face-to-face groups were examined. Results show that the assignment of long-term versus short-term partnerships has a larger impact on anticipated future interaction reported by computer-mediated, rather than face-to-face, partners. Evidence also shows that anticipation is a more potent predictor Of several relational communication dimensions than is communication condition. Implications for theory and practice are identified.
Walther, Joseph B. (Aug 1994). Interpersonal Effects in Computer-Mediated Interaction: A Meta-Analysis of Social and Antisocial Communication. Human Communication Research, Vol. 21, No. 4, p. 460-487.
Examines the effects of time restriction on social interaction in computer-mediated communication through a meta-analysis of applicable research. Time was defined as whether Ss were restricted in their opportunity to exchange messages. Studies assessed either of two outcome variables: socially oriented (as opposed to task-oriented) and negative/uninhibited communication. Meta-analytic tests supported the hypotheses on social communication. Although no effects were found on negative/uninhibited communication, a reexamination of original studies suggests caution regarding previous findings.
Walther, Joseph B. (March/April 1995). Relational Aspects of Computer-Mediated Communication: Experimental Observations Over Time. Organization Science, Vol. 6, No. 2, p. 186-203.
Many fear that electronic communication may be less rich in social cues and, therefore, dehumanize organizations. Walther's analysis and controlled study show that electronic communication can promote some surprising, positive relational communication between people. His approach to experimenting with relational communication and his method for coding the results will be most interesting to the reader.
Walther, Joseph B., J.K. Burgoon, D.B. Buller, L. Dillman, and J.B. Walter. (Dec 1995). Interpersonal Deception: Effects of Suspician on Perceived Communication and Nonverbal Behavior Dynamics. Human Communication Research, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 163-196.
Interpersonal deception theory (IDT) frames deception as a communication activity and examines deception within interactive contexts. One key element of the theory is the role of suspicion in prompting behavior changes. An experiment testing several suspicion-related hypotheses paired participants (half friends, half strangers) for interviews during which interviewees (EEs) lied or told the truth and interviewers (ERs) were induced to be (moderately or highly) suspicious (or not). Results confirmed that suspicion and deceit were perceived when present, suspicion was manifested through nonverbal behaviors but with different behavioral patterns for moderately versus highly suspicious ERs, and suspicion affected sender behavior. Relational familiarity moderated some behaviors. Results are discussed in terms of mutual influence processes and the dynamic nature of communication in interpersonal deception.
Walther, Joseph B. (Feb 1996). Computer-Mediated Communication: Impersonal, Interpersonal, and Hyperpersonal Interaction. Human Communication Research, Vol. 23, No. 1, p. 3-43.
Theory and research regarding computer-mediated communication (CMC) and its effects on interpersonal communication are examined, and two reconceptualizations of the work presented. First, it is suggested that research and theory on impersonal and interpersonal interactions should be reconceptualized by specifying conditions that favor particular outcomes. Possible strategies that could take advantage of this variability are suggested. Secondly, it is argued that media attributes, social phenomena, and social/psychological processes may combine to produce "hyperpersonal" communication in both group and dyadic settings. Subprocesses regarding receivers, senders, channels, and feedback elements that may enhance impressions and interpersonal relations are assessed. It is concluded that early perceptions of CMC as liberating with regard to information transmission, but limiting in terms of interpersonal communication, must be reevaluated.
CMC may be liberating in the latter case because it allows users to selectively minimize or maximize interpersonal effects. While computer-mediated communication use and research are proliferating rapidly, findings offer contrasting images regarding the interpersonal character of this technology. Research trends over the history of these media are reviewed with observations across trends suggested so as to provide integrative principles with which to apply media to different circumstances. First, the notion that the media reduce personal influences-their impersonal effects-is reviewed. Newer theories and research are noted explaining normative ''interpersonal'' uses of the media. From this vantage point, recognizing that impersonal communication is sometimes advantageous, strategies for the intentional depersonalization of media use are inferred, with implications for Group Decision Support Systems effects. Additionally, recognizing that media sometimes facilitate communication that surpasses normal interpersonal levels, a new perspective on ''hyperpersonal'' communication is introduced. Subprocesses are discussed pertaining to receivers, senders, channels, and feedback elements in computer-mediated communication that may enhance impressions and interpersonal relations.
Walther, Joseph B. (March 1997). Group and Interpersonal Effects in International Computer- Mediated Collaboration. Human Communication Research, Vol. 23, No. 3, p. 342-369.
Drawing on two recent theories, this article proposes interaction hypotheses involving the joint effects of salient group versus individual identify and long-term versus short-term group membership on the social, interpersonal, and intellectual responses of group members collaborating via computer-mediated communication. Participants from institutions in two countries used computer-mediated communication under various conditions. Results indicate that some conditions of computer-mediated communication use by geographically dispersed partners render effects systematically superior to those obtained in other mediated conditions and greater or lesser than effects obtained through face-to-face interaction.
Ward, K.J. (March 1999). Cyber-ethnography and the Emergence of the Virtually New Community. Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 95-105.
The aim is to demonstrate how cyber-ethnography has become the most appropriate tool in reaching a definition of the virtual community. It is argued through the cyber-ethnographic examination of two virtual communities that, interpretative research methods traditionally associated with the social sciences enforce preconceived ideas and normative frameworks on to the virtual community. Cyber-ethnography allows a reflexive methodology to emerge, thus enabling the participants of virtual communities to define their own reality and perimeters. It is propounded that there are two elements to the virtual community. First, it is emphasized that a hybrid space is rapidly emerging that is neither absolutely physical or virtual. Through its convergence with the physical the virtual community's existence is apparent, though not unconditionally virtual. Secondly, the participants are depicted as having a transitory, unconditional relationship with the virtual community. That is; they will only participate for short periods when they require use of the resources that the virtual community has to offer.
Waskul, Dennis, and Mark Douglass. (Oct-Dec 1997). Cyberself: The Emergence of Self in Online Chat. Information Society, Vol. 13, No. 4, p. 375-398.
Expanding computer network technologies have emerged as a popular communication channel for millions of people. Contemporary literature abounds with ideologically biased accounts of on- line interaction that hinder the emergence of a coherent analytical framework. Scholarly work on computer-mediated communicative play remains underdeveloped. Through an empirically grounded theoretical orientation, this study aims to identify and illustrate processes and elements central to the emergence of self in on-line chat environments. By use of an e-mail survey, participant observation, content analysis, and open-ended interviews, the social nature of on- line interaction is illustrated and identified as significantly more than the technological sum of the medium. Findings indicate that through on-line chat-interaction a "cyberself" emerges, rooted in a unique form of communication that is disembodied, dislocated, anonymous, multiple- simultaneous, and faceless. Each of these elements introduces new possibilities to the dramatic nature of on-line interaction, which represents a kind of communication "self-game" where participants enact a multiplicity of selves.
Weinberg, Nancy. (1997). Compassion by Computer: Contrasting the Supportiveness of Computer-Mediated and Face-to-Face Interactions. Computers in Human Services, Vol. 13, No. 2, p. 51- 63.
Investigates whether computer-mediated communication can provide the same type of supportive atmosphere as face-to-face communication. Participants included 26 same-sex pairs; 13 pairs were randomly assigned to interact face-to-face and 13 by computer. During the exchanges, one member of each pair discussed a current concern he or she was experiencing and, at the conclusion of the interaction, he or she rated the interaction on supportiveness helpfulness and callousness scales. No significant differences were found between the conditions on these overall rating scales. There was, however, a tendency for members of the computer condition to report that they were less guarded in what they revealed about themselves and viewed their partners as less judgmental. Possible explanations of these data are discussed.
Weinrich, James D. (June 1997). Strange Bedfellows: Homosexuality, Gay Liberation, and the Internet. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, Vol. 22, No. 1, p. 58-66.
An exploration of the high level of Internet use by homosexuals draws on (1997) interviews with homosexual computer/computer network pioneers (N unspecified). Most informants hypothesized that the overrepresentation of lesbians and gay men in the computer industry results from the geographic proximity of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, CA. Others suggested that the social isolation of homosexual adolescents attracts them to computers. For homosexuals, the Internet functions as a virtual community, a process accelerated by the early establishment of gay newsgroups, and allows the pursuit of both personal and political goals.
Weisband, S.P., S.K. Schneider, and T. Connolly. (August 1995). Computer-mediated Communication and Social Information: Status Salience and Status Differences. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 38, No. 4, p. 1124-1151.
Many studies have found that groups that interact by computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies are less prone to domination by high-status members than are face-to face groups. We report here the results of three experiments designed to investigate participation and influence equality in mixed-status groups. Status differences persisted in both face-to-face and electronic groups. We suggest that status labels and impressions based on them have a larger impact on participation and influence than do communication media.
Wellman, Barry, and Milena Gulia. (1995). When Social Networks Meet Computer Networks: The Policy Implications of Virtual Communities. American Sociological Association (ASA).
Reviews existing research and experience - along with speculation, hope, and hype for the future - about the nature of virtual communities. Such communities consist of persons and groups linked for nonwork purposes by such forms of computer-mediated communication as e-mail, newsgroups, distribution lists, and desktop videoconferencing. They exchange sociability, information, social support, and a sense of belonging. They may exist as entities in their own right - with no other form of communication among the participants - or as part of broader communication media where relationships are also maintained by face-to-face contact, telephone, letters, and printed document. The analysis has two bases: (1) a multidisciplinary review of the often-fugitive literature for articles in the Annual Review of Sociology and Communities in Cyberspace; and (2) the group's three research projects into computer-supported cooperative work and community. These projects combine quantitative and qualitative analysis. We ask: Are computer-mediated communications a substitute for, addition to, or booster of, face-to-face, telephone, and print media? Do virtual communities computer networks foster a dissociation of physical place and social place? Will spatial form and process change, with an inexorable trend to decentralization? What are the implications of the information highway for the integration of social systems?
Wellman B., Salaff, J., Dimitrova, D., Garton, L., Gulia, M., and C. Haythornthwaite. (1996). Computer Networks as Social Networks: Collaborative Work, Telework, and Virtual Community. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 22, p. 213-238.
When computer networks link people as well as machines, they become social networks. Such computer-supported social networks (CSSNs) are becoming important bases of virtual communities, computer-supported cooperative work, and telework. Computer-mediated communication such as electronic mail and computerized conferencing is usually text-based and asynchronous. It has limited social presence, and on-line communications are often more uninhibited, creative, and blunt than in-person communication. Nevertheless, CSSNs sustain strong, intermediate, and weak ties that provide information and social support in both specialized and broadly based relationships. CSSNs foster virtual communities that are usually partial and narrowly focused, although some do become encompassing and broadly based. CSSNs accomplish a wide variety of cooperative work, connecting workers within and between organizations who are often physically dispersed. CSSNs also link teleworkers from their homes or remote work centers to main organizational offices. Although many relationships function off-line as well as on-line, CSSNs have developed their own norms and structures. The nature of the medium both constrains and facilitates social control. CSSNs have strong societal implications, fostering situations that combine global connectivity, the fragmentation of solidarities, the de-emphasis of local organizations (in the neighborhood and workplace), and the increased importance of home bases.
Wellman, Barry. (July 1997). The Road to Utopia and Dystopia on the Information Highway. Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 26, No. 4, p. 445-449.
A review essay on books by (1) William J. Mitchell, City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infobahn (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, (1995)); (2) Harold Rheingold, The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1993); (3) Mark Slouka, War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-Tech Assault on Reality (New York: Basic Books, (1995)); (4) Clifford Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway (New York: Doubleday, (1995)); (5) Allucquere Rosanne Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, (1995)); and (6) Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon and Schuster, (1995)). Mitchell and Rheingold, proponents of the Internet, argue that the basis of community is communication rather than physical space; the Internet is a mechanism of creating community and enhancing communication. Opponents Slouka and Stole indicate that the Internet has the potential to blur the distinction between reality and fantasy. Stone and Turkle explore the implications of cyberspace for the construction of identity and relationships. Although these books are informative and present a variety of perspectives, they all describe the Internet as divorced from its surrounding social context and, thus, are parochial.
Wiesenfeld, B., S. Raghuram, and R. Garud. (June 1998). Communication Patterns as Determinants of Organizational Identification in a Virtual Organization. Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication, Vol. 3, No. 4.
Recent advances in information technologies provide employees the freedom to work from any place and at any time. Such temporal and spatial dispersion, however, threatens the very meaning of firms. We suggest that organizational identification may be the critical glue linking virtual workers and their organizations. We explore the role that information technologies play in the creation and maintenance of a common identity among decoupled organization members.
Winner, Langdon. (1996). Who Will We Be in Cyberspace? The Information Society, Vol. 12, No. 1, p. 63-72.
As the 20th century draws to a close, it is evident that, for better or worse, the future of computing and the future of human relations - indeed, of being human itself - are now thoroughly intertwined. Foremost among the obligations this situation presents is the need to seek alternatives, social policies that might undo the dreary legacy of modernism: pervasive systems of one-way communication, preemption of democratic social choice corporate manipulation, and the presentation of sweeping changes in living conditions as something justified by a univocal, irresistible progress. True, the habits of technological somnambulism cultivated over many decades will not be easily overcome, but as waves of overhyped innovation confront increasingly obvious signs of social disorder, opportunities for lively conversation sometimes falls into one's lap. Choices about computer technology involve not only obvious questions about what to do, but also less obvious ones about who to be. By virtue of their vocation, computer professionals are well suited to initiate public debates on this matter, helping a democratic populace explore new identities and the horizon of a good society.
Witmer, Diane F., and Sandra Lee Katzman. (March 1997). On-Line Smiles: Does Gender Make a Difference in the Use of Graphic Accents? Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 2, No. 4.
In the gender-bending world of computer-mediated communication (CMC), is it possible to determine the gender of a message sender from cues in the message? This study addresses the question by drawing on current literature to formulate and test three hypotheses: (i) women use more graphic accents than men do in their CMC, (ii) men use more challenging language in CMC than do women, and (iii) men write more inflammatory messages than do women. Results indicate that only the first hypothesis is partially supported and that women tend to challenge and flame more than do men in this sample group. The authors also discuss implications and pose questions for additional research.
Witmer, Diane F. (Dec 1998). Staying Connected: A Case Study of Distance Learning for Student Interns. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 4, No. 2.
This paper reports a pilot distance learning course that was launched in response to a number of concerns regarding an existing internship program at a Midwestern university. Not surprisingly, student reactions to the program were somewhat inconsistent, as their experiences varied widely, both in terms of the technology and the internship site, and the new course needed considerable debugging. Comments ranged from very negative to very positive. However, most of the students (63.5%) highly recommended or recommended without qualification that communication technologies be used for summer internships. Another 20.5% of the students recommended the use of communication technology with suggestions for improvement. A major improvement in the general quality of student report writing also was noted. The data indicate that a distance learning approach to internships has great potential to enhance synthesis and integration of classroom learning with on-the-job experiences.
Xiaoming, Hao, Kewen Zhang, and Huang Yu. (1996). The Internet and Information Control: The Case of China. Javnost /The Public, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 117-130.
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) in the People's Republic of China is examined to assess the challenge that new communications technologies pose to traditional forms of governmental control. While market demands have prompted a new degree of openness, the government is still committed to maintaining ideological control over the Chinese people, which is threatened by the Internet. Modernization and economic competition with other countries have forced the Chinese government to allow global computer networking, but access is severly restricted. The development of new information technologies is progressing so rapidly, however, that efforts to regulate them will become increasingly difficult. However, unequal distribution and the fact that world wide CMC is conducted mainly in English make fundamental changes in China's government or media systems unlikely for the foreseeable future. Internet access will help to expand the country's communication structures, but it may also create a larger gap between the information rich and poor, and make the goal of true participatory democracy even harder to attain.
Yates, Simeon J. (Dec 1997). Gender, Identity and CMC. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 13, No. 4, p. 281-290.
Reexamines recent discussions of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in light of debates concerning gender, identity, and inequality. Claims have been made by disparate groups and institutions, from educators and technologists to the advertising divisions of communications companies, that CMC-based interactions lack the overt structures of inequality found in other communicative situations. This ideology of online equality is partly based on research, as well as on popularized accounts. Set against this is a growing body of research into CMC and gender, as well as other structures of inequality, that has revealed differences in both access and practice. By reexamining the various claims underlying both positions, as well as deploying recent research into the cultural aspects of gender identities, the centrality of gender to CMC interactions is demonstrated.
Zdenek, S. (July 1999). Rising Up from the MUD: Inscribing Gender in Software Design. Discourse and Society, Vol. 10, No. 3, p. 379-409.
Although the 'liberatory' approach to new communications technologies has been, for the most part, called into question by researchers in the humanities and social sciences, who now adopt a more critical relationship with technology, it continues to enjoy explanatory power in the popular press and in software design practices and cultures. According to the liberatory approach, freedom from sexism and other forms of oppression is brought about by something as simple and profound as a change in online handle a practice known as 'gender swapping' (Bruckman, 1993). Yet, as some language theorists have shown (e.g. Herring, (1996)), communication in cyberspace also reinforces existing social hierarchies, including gender differences found in face-to-face contexts. Unlike traditional, human-centered studies of computer-mediated communication and gender, this article treats a series of talking software programs as important objects for studying how software design is also implicated in the construction of gender differences. In addition to the programs' databases of gendered utterances and internal models of communicative interaction, these differences are also reinforced and negotiated en route, in the ongoing process of talking about why and how a software program is gendered.