Internet research annual volume I: selected papers from the association of internet researchers conference 2000- 2002

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Internet Research: There and Back Again 1

Mia Consalvo

Imagining an Association 5

Steve Jones


Klaus Bruhn Jensen and Monica Murero

  • 1  Legal Consequences of the Cyberspatial Metaphor 17 Dan L. Burk

  • 2  Internet Research: For and Against 25 Philip E. Agre

  • 3  Dangerous Futures: Artificial Intelligence and Scientific Argument 37 Barbara Warnick

  • 4  Out of the Dot-com Bubble: A New Opportunity for Internet Research 46 William H. Dutton

  • 5  Constructs in the Storm 55 Sheizaf Rafaeli

  • 6  Online Communication: Through the Lens of Discourse 65 Susan C. Herring

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vi Internet Research Annual

  • 7  Cyberscience, Methodology, and Research Substance 77 Michael Nentwich

  • 8  The Effects of New Communication and Information Technologies
on Academic Research Paradigms 86 Irene Berkowitz

  • 9  The Cathedral or the Bazaar? The AoIR Document on Internet Research
Ethics as an Exercise in Open Source Ethics 95 Charles Ess


Nancy Baym and Jeremy Hunsinger

  • 10  “IMAGINE”: A Structural Analysis of the Use of the Internet
by Households in Four European Towns 109 Alain d’Iribarne

  • 11  Musical Taste and Sociability: Evidence from Survey2000 118 James Witte and John Ryan

  • 12  Global Reach, Local Roots: Young Danes and the Internet 129 Gitte Stald

  • 13  Questing on the Global Stage: Brain Gain, Market Gain, and the Rhetoric
of the Internet in German and U.S. Higher Education Policy 141 Doreen Starke-Meyerring

  • 14  Learning to Use ICTs in a Gulf Arab Context 150 David Palfreyman

  • 15  Virtual Consumption: The Commercial Discourse of the Web 158 Karen Gustafson

  • 16  Redlining and Redefining High-Speed Internet Access: Policy, Practice, and Patchwork in Urban Development 166 Christopher Bodnar

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Contents vii

  • 17  The Internet, Capitalism, and Policy 175 Robin Mansell

  • 18  Spiders, Spam, and Spyware: New Media and the Market for Political
Information 185 Philip N. Howard and Tema J. Milstein


John Logie and Leslie Regan Shade

  • 19  Virtual Otherness: An Example of In-Group and Out-Group Online
Interaction in Yugoslavia During the NATO Bombing 197 Smiljana Antonijevic

  • 20  Because It’s Important and Out There: From Real-Life Identity to
Virtual Ethnicities 205 Nils Zurawski

  • 21  Newsgroup Interaction as Urban Life 216 Stine Gotved

  • 22  Community as Commodity: Empowerment and Consumerism on the Web 224 Jan Fernback

  • 23  Just Do It! The Online Communication of Breast Cancer as a Practice
of Empowerment 231 Shani Orgad

  • 24  The Internet’s “Magnifying Glass” Effect on Offline Ties in the General
Social Survey 241 Sorin Adam Matei

  • 25  Talking in Lists: The Consequences of Computer-Mediated Communication
on Communities 250 Andrea Kavanaugh and Joseph Schmitz

  • 26  The Social Design of Virtual Worlds: Constructing the User and Community through Code 260 T. L. Taylor

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viii Internet Research Annual

List of Contributors 269 Related AoIR Conference Publications 277 Index 279

Mia Consalvo


��The original There and Back Again chronicles the life of a hobbit—Bilbo Baggins—as he journeys through Middle Earth. His adventures and life don’t center on (or even address) technology, yet the title of his book, in- dicating the need for adventure as well as the grounding influence of home, might be a key metaphor for Internet researchers.

Bilbo’s title is, I believe, a better way to think about the Internet than the ubiq- uitous Microsoft catchphrase, “Where do you want to go today?” Although Microsoft’s version captures the wonder of exploring a new space, Bilbo’s title more accurately describes the impact of the Internet on most of us today. Al- though it can be an unforgettable trip, there is always the need to return home to the everyday. Additionally, use of the Internet is becoming more than a journey “there”—it is becoming part of what we do “back” at home as well. And although Internet researchers can get caught up in their journeys and explorations—like Bilbo—they need to acknowledge how integrated the Internet is in daily life, and how it is becoming part of both “there” and “back again.”

The work presented in this volume examines those integrations through the study of how communities and cultures are forming in and through use of the Internet, as well as how the Internet is becoming a space to research as well as a space that shapes the rest of our knowledge and research. Initially, the task of identifying and narrowing down the number of relevant pieces from three confer- ences for this annual seemed overwhelming, and my fellow editors bravely took on the task of doing that work and assembling a coherent group. In rereading (or reading for the first time) this body of work, often updated for this volume, the complicated connections between “there” and “back” kept appearing. So, al- though the “sexiness” of Internet research is perhaps on the decline, its relevance and level of sophistication are increasing.

In working with the contributors to this volume, I was awed by the breadth of

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2 internet research annual

knowledge and depth of research areas that have developed relating to the Inter- net. Although I was aware that numerous fields and disciplines were studying the Internet from their own particular angle, I had of necessity isolated myself a bit, concentrating on work done in media studies, women’s studies, and digital gaming in particular. Reading a wider variety of work than that gave me new perspectives and fresh understandings about the Internet and its role in shaping our world, or, more important, our role in shaping its use and structure.

In considering how this body of work “comes together,” to say larger or more generalizable things about the Internet, I’m more tentative. One thing that’s easy to say is that Internet research has found a home in just about every discipline and field in the academy. As research about the Internet has infiltrated most academic areas, it has largely moved from being considered a novelty to being an integral and integrated part of larger study. We don’t much believe in or study disembod- ied online experience anymore, looking instead at the articulations between offline and online activities. It’s not enough to say that we “become someone else” on- line—how can that be possible when a person surfs the Web, talks on the phone, and makes dinner all at the same time? Perhaps our “multiple selves” should be re- imagined as multiple life roles, of which online activities can contribute to (or de- tract from)—but likely not play a primary role—at least for most people.

The Internet has evolved in popular representations from a place for the weird and strange, to the dangerous, to the commercial, and now to just another part of our communication system. Yet, that communication system isn’t shared by every- one, as we must continually remind ourselves. Research on the persistent digital divide, both nationally and globally, tells us that even as some gaps close, others open (such as the growing shift from dial-up to broadband or other high-speed ac- cess that is creating a new have/have not fissure). Questions also arise about the possibilities for leap-frogging past certain divides, such as with the call for wireless access for disadvantaged regions of the world, rather than relying on (non)existent phone lines. We also must keep aware that government initiatives can be defunded and folded just as quickly as they were put in place, especially in times of budget shortfalls.

As Internet research addressing issues such as these has broadened and deep- ened, it’s become easy to fall behind in understanding how that growing body of work fits together. Even within a narrow area such as media studies, the growth of research is explosive. We are forced to become specialists within an already special- ized field. Likewise, the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conferences have grown in participation, so much so that there are multiple competing sessions at any one time, leading away from the cozy atmosphere of the first conference, to better mirror the larger disciplinary conferences with their separate “tracks” or “di- visions.” Is that the future of AoIR and Internet knowledge?

Although Steve Jones (in this volume) has written about how AoIR started as a place for people on the margins of their disciplines, when my own research career began, Internet research was not widely practiced in my school (Mass Communi- cation), but was enthusiastically accepted as an appropriate area for research. My

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consalvo | Internet Research: There and Back Again 3

traditional scholarly associations all accepted “new media” research, and the sense of marginalization or exclusion felt by some earlier researchers was never my expe- rience. I suspect that experience is growing, for many disciplines at least.

The creation of AoIR was an attempt to construct a “tent” for those working outside of the bounds of their own disciplinary homes. AoIR was a place to con- gregate with others who knew and understood the language of the Internet—no need to define what Usenet was here or question the value of exploring Multi- User Dungeons (MUDs) or Multi-User Dungeons that were Object Oriented (MOOs). The tent sheltering us all has grown large.

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