katie j. ward (1999) 'The Cyber-Ethnographic (Re)Construction of Two Feminist Online Communities'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/4/1/ward.html>
To cite articles published in Sociological Research Online, please reference the above information and include paragraph numbers if necessary
Received: 05/02/99 Accepted: 29/03/99 Published: 31/3/99
The net has taken to epitomize the shape of this new distributed non-linear world. With no limit to the number of names which can be used, one individual can become a population explosion on the Net: many sexes, many species... there's no limit to the games that can be played in cyberspace (Plant 1997: p. 46).
Cyber-ethnography is a study of online interaction. It allows the subjects being studied to talk back even as the process is occurring. The talking back is part of the cyber-ethnographic process (Gajjala, 1997; see Cyber-ethnography website).
Virtual community is the illusion of community where there are no real people and no real communication. It is a term used by idealistic technophiles who fail to understand that authentic cannot be engendered through technological means. Virtual community flies in the face of 'human nature' that is, essentially, it seems, depraved (Wilbur 1997: p. 14).
Create networking opportunities, job and business leads, form alliances... and [to] encourage non-competitive exchanges of information and experience (New York Times, 25/02/96).
Webgrrls is an important part of Cybergrrl because it brings Internet knowledge, opportunity and networking to women in their local communities, face-to-face.
I discovered Webgrrls when I was browsing the Cybergrrl site and I am now able to meet up with people who are interested in my work.
I think Webgrrls is a great idea as I can make contacts at the meetings. People aren't just words on a screen, they have real jobs and lives...Webgrrls brings alive the people I meet online (emails 05/97).
The Village is really a place for us all to share thoughts and ideas, meet people and really connect.
I find the Cybergrrl site to be a very positive place for women to explore the internet and participate in the creation of a community.
I love the way we can all meet up here and there are so many people from such different backgrounds...it's so cool!
Its so weird it's like we're all just sitting at our computers and we have created this world. It's almost spiritual.
I feel like it's a community, sort of. I know some people by name and suspect they know me, too, although I've never directly talked to them Like you ..., for example). I know that some people read what I write and that gives me immense satisfaction. There are people around to help if there are problems. There are also black sheep around, and that's what rounds the picture. I find it difficult to keep closer relationships going in cybergrrl, but I have that problem in RL too. What else does a community need?
WHOA provides empowerment and unified support for persons who have been targeted for harassment and abuse.
We feel that we are providing a template for a future: a future which all people can work together...and not have to fear harassment and abuse and because we believe that the internet is both a reflection of... society at large, we believe that in building such a world online, we can help to build it offline as well.
How does he know where I am, what email client I'm using, and how does he know I'm me when I'm using an assumed name?
There is a very good chance he will get brave enough to track you down in real life and stalk you. You do not want to escalate it to that point. You need to get a good lawyer who will work on contingency and put a stop to this person now before it becomes more serious...
Let us know what happens. And take precautions in the mean time: Don't answer the door without knowing who it is first...Be aware at all times when you are outside you home...
As far as rape ... someone who is manipulative can play with your emotions and get you to an emotional point where you'll be more likely to go along with cybersex. I've seen guys who were very skilled at this ...pressuring girls into cybersex, by using guilt, pity, making them feel special, making them feel mature, even scaring them by threatening suicide. They're very good at what they do, they really are, and they know how to pick their targets. If it's rape or not, I can't say, but to me it's not much better than rape.
Its a community in that we have certain community building programmes - the discussion list, the newsletter, the safe site award etc.
While looking for any resources to deal with this (nuisance calls as a result of personal information being posted to a message board)...I stumbled across WHOA...I thought the group had merit.
Thanks so much to all of you who have replied to my request for help. I'm considering what each of you have suggested, and will probably make a decision on what actions I should take...
2This allows participants to chat and communicate with other internet users in real time, that is they can type their messages onto the screen and the others who are logged on to the same internet page at that moment, can both read the conversation and contribute to it if they wish.
3A BB is a representation of an actual notice board. It is a virtual space that is often found within virtual communities. Each BB has a heading that denotes what the discussion will concern on this particular board. Participants can access the BB and just read the contributions of others or they can post their thoughts to the BB and participate in the debate.
4An email discussion group is carried out using people's email boxes. There are numerous groups centering around endless topics, and so the participant finds a topic that interests them, and subscribes to the email group. Subscription involves sending an email to an automatic server such as Listerv or Majordormo, asking to be added to the list. Once a member the participants mail box is flooded with messages from the other members. All the members post their message to the central server and it automatically distributes the messages to all the subscribed members. Participants can either respond to the discussion or lurk on the list. All the lists are owned by an individual, and this person has the right to expel participants from the list, if they post continuously offensive messages, or can prevent any unsavory messages from being distributed to the other list members
5Given the lack of cues in cyberspace, a participant can join an email list or BB forum and read the messages without making him/her self known to the other participants. The participant can begin to experience CMC without participating fully. The practice of lurking, alone, is not sufficient for cyber-ethnography, thus I have combined it with individual and group interviews.
6This term refers to the magazine type publications that are often produced by owners of websites.
7This facility allows any registered user to send any other user, who is online at that particular time, a message. This message appears on the recipients screen and is hidden from all the other users. The recipient has the option to reply to the message or to simply delete.
8Flaming refers to the offensive exchanges that often occur via email or in a real time chat room. This type of abuse can be quite violent and more heated than in real life because of the anonymity of computer mediated communication. Further, if the abuse takes place via email, there is a time lapse and people have greater opportunity to think out what they are going to say, so rather than having to respond with a spontaneous retort, a contrived one can be utilised. It is argued that men flame more than women, whereas women focus on communicating and finding community (Senjen and Guthrey, 1993). Typically, women are asked to chat and are given technical advice by men; whereas men regard themselves as having the right to make all these kind of sexist moves. Likewise, when women try and join in a serious conversation that is mixed, they are often ignored and belittled by men; relations of dominance and subservience are reproduced (Spender, 1996).
9Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft are typologies of societal structures created by Tonnies to describe the changes experienced in the transition from pre-industrial to industrial society. Gemeinschaft embodies the sentiments of communion, kinship and solidarity amongst people who shared a location. Gesellschaft was considered to have replaced Gemeinschaft with the rise of the industrial world and this involved the rise of rationality and calculability leading to impersonal relationships; hence Tonnies was concerned with the changes from pre-industrial to industrial society and the subsequent loss of community.
10This term refers to the manner in which internet users express emotion. For example :) and : ( are used to indicate happiness and sadness respectively and other combinations such as ; ) are used to denote sarcasm or irony.
11This refers to the set of norms, values and standards of behaviour that have emerged in cyberspace.
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