RESEARCHING THE INTERNET EXPERIENCE
If you've read parts of Online Communication or completed the whole book to this point, then you have some appreciation for how academics are striving to understand the online experience. As you've probably noticed in your reading, researchers from communication, composition, computer science, law, psychology, and sociology, to name but a few disciplines, are working to interpret the human-to-human interactions mediated by computer technology. As you know, the introduction of the Internet into our lives has raised a host of issues, including questions about self, relationships, addiction, communities, commerce, privacy, and censorship, among others. The answers to these questions rest in careful investigation into Internet phenomena.
As an appendix to this book, we suggest some of the considerations scholars have taken as they have sought explanations for online phenomena. In particular, this appendix defines two types of scholarship into mediating technologies and reviews guidelines for conducting ethical research initiatives. It is our hope that these points will assist you as you evaluate the research of others and plan research projects of your own. As you have read in the previous chapters, the results of such investigations have yielded a growing body of literature that helps us make sense of the communicating online, and your contribution could be one that furthers our knowledge that much more.
OR SOCIAL ASPECTS OF CMC
In Doing Internet Research, James Costigan (1999) states that CMC literature can be divided into two categories. The first category involves research into how information is stored and retrieved from the Internet. This research seems to focus on the technological aspects of the computer and its software and the implications for how humans manage them. Such a technological perspective is evident in the following two relevant works of communication scholarship.
In the first, Greg Elmer (1997) examines how the indexing capabilities of the Internet function. One form of indexing that many of us encounter is through search engines on the World Wide Web. These engines draw particular sites to our attention, but also draw attention to us. As Elmer notes, a number of sites, notably those of a commercial nature, are seeking to index us by soliciting our personal information for marketing purposes. His research calls to our attention the double-edged sword of the Internet