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.

The Development of Individual Identity

The development of individual identity

The rec.arts.tv.soaps (r.a.t.s.) newsgroup is held together by its clear focus on interpreting the soaps, its group identity, and social norms that influence every message. All of these factors shape the sense that this group is a community. But it would not feel like a community without the individual personalities that emerge out of the endless parade of messages in ra.t.s. These “net.personalities” allow r.a.t.s. participants to feel that they know one another, even if they do not post or have personal relationships with each other. Just as the norms of r.a.t.s. interaction and the intelligent/witty group identity are interactive accomplishments, so too are the individualized identities that emerge within the group. Individual posters are influenced ...

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