The Internet is a medium with great consequences for social and economic life. This book is written to help people discern in what ways it has commanded the public imagination, and the methodological issues that arise when one tries to study and understand the social processes occurring within it. The contributors offer original responses in the search for, and critique of, methods with which to study the Internet and the social, political, economic, artistic, and communicative phenomena occurring within and around it.

Studying the Net: Intricacies and Issues

Studying the net: Intricacies and issues

Even after all the research, and the most skillful storytelling, reality remains obdurate.

—John Pauly (1991, p. 23)

We look for evidence of culture at those minute points of contact between new things and old habits, and … we include in our sense of history the power of things themselves to impress and shape and evoke a response within consciousness.

—Alan Trachtenberg (1986. p. xiii)

There is always risk in probing into mysteries.

—David Plath (1980, 218)

For all the newness and hoopla associated with the Internet, much of the narrative surrounding it is quite predictable. As I have noted in other essays (Jones, 1995, 1997b), the hype about the Internet, whether accurate or not, is tellingly like that which ...

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