• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.

Recontextualizing “Cyberspace”: Methodological Considerations for on-Line Research
Recontextualizing “cyberspace”: Methodological considerations for on-line research

Much as my personal biases lead me in that direction, I would never have the audacity to suggest that all social research projects ought to include participant observation. Yet with regard to research on interactive on-line forums, I recommend just that. I do so in hopes of countering tendencies in the new and growing field of on-line research to ignore important social contexts of on-line communication and interaction. In what follows, I outline some of these social contexts and indicate their importance for understanding on-line interaction. I suggest that even when researchers ultimately seek to use other methods, participant observation can provide information important to the successful implementation of on-line research.

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