April 17, 2007

Lit Review: Technological Environments and the Evolution of Social Research Methods (Christians & Chen)

-From Newton --> Shannon and Weaver's The Mathematical Theory of Communication
-Carl Couch: Audio and video recording of human interactions.

Internet Research Pros:
-24-hour, instantaneous access.
-Massive sampling possibilities.
-Ability to pinpoint special interest groups
-Logs of conversations.

Issues in Internet Research:
-the bias of technology: what are the optimum qualities, and in what cases is the Internet less advantageous than other media?
-the technological imperative: tendency to allow Internet technology to monopolize other forms, yet this technology could not exist with the others.

Media of communication are vast social metaphors that not only transmit information but determine what is knowledge, that not only orient us to the world but tell us what kind of world exists.

-Marshall McLuhan

-organic communities: electronic culture dislocats us from space and history. Lacking acoustical symbols, assured markers of identity, and its dependence on the offline world, the online "world" cannot be one of its own making, per se.


I would argue that online environments can indeed be historically situated, and that we are in the midst of crafting a virtual world that will come to allow for extensive and imaginative identity play. However, what is often observed online is not the creation but rather the extension of real-world phenomena. In what ways are new forms of communication and community-building being created in virtual environments (cultural appropriation, network-bridging, etc;)?

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