Tune In, Log Out is an ethnographic study of an Internet soap opera fan group. Bridging the fields of computer-mediated communication and audience studies, the book shows how verbal and non verbal communicative practices create collaborative interpretations and criticism, group humor, interpersonal relationships, group norms and individual identity. While much has been written about problems and inequities women have encountered online, Nancy K Baym's analysis of a female-dominated group in which female communication styles prevail demonstrates that women can build successful online communities while still welcoming male participation. In addition, a longitudinal look at the development of fan group allows an examination of the endurance of the group’s social structure in the face of the Internet’s tremendous growth. Lively and engaging, Tune In, Log Out provides an entertaining introduction to issues of online and audience community.

Introduction: Three Tales of One Community

Introduction: Three tales of one community

My daily routine in graduate school went something like this. When I was done teaching, taking my classes, and doing the readings or whatever else had to be done that day, I curled up on my couch, rewound the videotape, and (making liberal use of the fast-forward button) watched my soaps. Later, I turned on my computer and logged on to rec.arts.tv.soaps (r.a.t.s.), a Usenet newsgroup distributed through the Internet. Once “there”—in my tiny study nook with the computer before me—I read the many messages that had been posted about my soaps, sometimes sending my own. The r.a.t.s. newsgroup transformed my understanding of computers; for the first time, I saw them as social tools. ...

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