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Internet Studies in the Twenty-First Century

Gurak, L. J. (2004) Internet studies in the twenty-first century. In D. Gauntlett (Ed.), Web.Studies (2nd ed.) (pp. 24-33). London: Arnold.

Gurak starts off with an overview of early CMC research that mimics the 8550 syllabus:

  • Hiltz & Turoff (1978): impersonality/freedom to be oneself; social/psychological differences noted in online vs f2f communication; lack of social cues; pen names/anonymity; impacts on workplace hierarchies
  • Kiesler, Siegel, McGuire (1984): emphasis on social/language based features which became CMC
  • Rice & Love (1987): electronic emotion
  • Herring (1993): gender and “masculine communication styles”
  • Turkle (1995): identity
  • Rheingold (1993): anecdotal research on virtual communities
  • Doheny-Farina (1996): virtual and local communities
  • Stromer-Galley (2000) and Hass (2001): reinvigoration of democracy through coalition-building, discussion, etc. on political campaign sites
  • Burk (2000): intellectual property in digital environments
She goes on to emphasize the movement from general studies to specific case studies that focus on individual communities or technologies and the creation of “Internet Studies” as an interdisciplinary field. Also noted are the shifting relevance of former topics (community, flaming, linguistic textual features, etc.) and the emergence of legal issues.

Finally, she provides an overview of speed and reach (oralness, redundancy/repetitiveness, casualness, multiplicity, visual reach, community) (31); as well as interactivity and anonymity (gender/identity, ownership, flaming, talking back, privacy) (32). Gurak concludes with a call for revisioning Internet Studies as new technologies emerge and old ones collapse.