Friday, October 28, 2005

AoIR6: Dynamics of Chat Spaces

This post was otiginally published on Social Simulation on 28 Octber 2005

The Dynamics of a Web Chat community (Janet Armentor-Cota); Lafayette College, Syracuse University

Community, communication, identity. How people use multi-media chat forums (webchat) – use of various media to overcome barriers associated with distance

Architecture of webchat
Chat – cmc, real-time, multi-participant, short message length, constant
Webchat – multi-media, incorporates typed messages, voice, emotional cues and video streams

RQs: exploratory, how do process and structures of multi-media technologies organise the webchat room space of [US] northeast romance chatrooms and ongoing interactions among participants? What kinds of interactions occur, how do they use the space?

Theoretical paradigms
Postmoderninity (Best and Kellner (1991, 1997, 2001)): not either/or; in between modern and post-modern
Network society (Manuel Castells 2000)
Cultural studies (Fornas, 2002; Sterne, 1999)
Network technologies and virtual reality (post mod theorists – Baudrillard, Plant, Stone)

Past research on Virtual Community and space: Fernback (1999)
Ridens and Geden (2004) – where people with shared interests and goals, meet and discuss shared interests and form a geographical bond
Gotved (2002) – space
Interface space: visibility of communications and interactions, the shared space; social space (constituted through the interactions of the community); metaphorical space (sum of perceived spatiality, all imaginations of the geography)

Virtual, postmodern ethnography (lurker)
DA (multi-disciplinary approach – multiple interpretations based on multi-strands of DA)
Naturalistic observation of a public space
Documented interactions with field notes for ½ years, logged text and audio

how people are using space – to create community
A place for excitement – a place for FUN (use internet for fun)
Voice chat
The regulars
Group movement in chat networks (regulars move through space together)
A space between: participants' everyday use of technology (blurring boundaries of on and off) is a blancing act – personal dynamics in a public space

Gatekeeping of Information: A New Approach, Karine Barzilai-Nahon (Information School, University of Washington)
RQ: Information control – who’s controlling what and how being done?
Gatekeeping in journalism (e.g., editor, what we get in news) (see journo lit)

“gatekeepoing is dead” Steve Yelvington

What is gatekeeping? Kurt Lewin (1947), David Manning White (1950), Donohue, Tichenor and Olien, 1972
Information control – including all forms of information control that may arise in decisions about message encoding, such as selection, shaping, display, timing, withholding or repetition of entire messaging – funnelling

Technological gatekeeping mechanisms:
channelling mechanism (search engines, directories and categories, hyperlinks); censorship mechanism (filtering, blocking, zoning, deletion of content); internationalisation mechanism (localisation, translation); security mechanism (authentication controls, integrity controls, access controls); cost-effective mechanism (cost of joining, cost of usage, cost of exit) – loads more (See the presentation)

authority dimension: gov’t level, industry regulator level, internal authority level)

Rheingold (2000)

RQ: Did it occur? Why does a gatekeeping occur? (Gatekeeping is operationalised as deletion of messages)
Objective – to develop explanatory models

Gained access to the logs of all seven major ISPs in Israel for 3 years – god access. Gatekeepers and regulator interviews, 80 diff variables. 1million messages

Mark Smith at Microsoft research (gatekeeping)

Sovereignty inside borders of virtual communities: there is a delicate tension between the 4 layers of gate keepers: regulators (keep order), service providers (raise profile of platform), managers (regulate who gets in for quality of community – quality vs. popularity), users
tensions exist particularly between enablers and managers

the community core (user seniority and hierarchy – serve as gatekeepers, overlapping loyalties): not necessarily top-down, but could be bottom up. A good core can see manager as irrelevant, all can move to different space, mutiny; senior figures guide and teach/dictate norms. Code, guidance, real regulations are the emergent social norms (e.g., flaming by new or unknown member/intruder, a senior figure (regular) comes in and diffuses the situation, or leads the situation)
overlapping loyalties – the more things you’re involved with, the more likely you’re going to be deleted (cross-posting and spam)

anonymity: in eg. Political discussions (where nicks are rarely changed because of rep), many of the “guests” are existing members of the community who may, for example, enter to try out a differing viewpoint than traditionally present in the community.

behaviour is similar or same across communities, so managers accumulate info about actor through rumour and other communication. Managers talk to one another and then act accordingly – relationship management/deletion etc.

Nissenbaum – methods of researching internet (recent)

Is this gatekeeping or information control?

Other coverage of these presentations are here


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