Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Sometimes I have this need for academic closure. For the last three years there are certain topics which are unrelated - or just distantly related - to my research which has bugged me to the point that I have at times been badly side-tracked. It turns out that if one book had come to my attention when it was new, and not years later, I could have been sidetracked by a whole different set of topics. The book I should have known about years ago is Network & Netplay, Virtual Groups on the Internet, a collection of articles on interaction on the internet both as reports of quantitative research and close and critical discussions of some popular myths and topics.

In 30 minutes of reading I learned that while women online tend to use emoticons and other "Graphic Accents" more then men, they also flame more and harsher than men, I found a model of Computer Mediated Communication which explains a lot of common mistakes in the approach to the study of MUDs, there was an exellent little model and discussion of the distinction between reactive and interactive media, and best of all, Richard C. MacKinnon had written a very good dicussion of the value of using the term "rape" about violations of personae in online social environments.

Dibble's presentation and interpretation of the affair of mr Bungle has bothered me for a long time. While it is a point in favour of Dibble's definition that rape is a demonstration of power rather than an act of sensuality or sexuality, I agree with Stone as MacKinnon quotes her: "Even in the age of the technosubject, life is lived through bodies."

But now, this book of compact, no-fuzz articles has affirmed a lot of the unease I have had about several subjects, and given me useful hard data on topics for which I have mainly built on my personal experience. It's good for two reasons: My personal experiences were fairly accurate compared to their data - and what bothered me has bothered others too - and they were able to spend the time and energy to figure it out.

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