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A chatroom ethnography: Evolution of community, norms, nonverbal communication
Unformatted Document Text:  A Chatroom Ethnography 14 Despite a substantial recognition of the need and use of nonverbal elements of communication, academic discussions of nonverbal use has not developed much beyond - and /. Further, there is a paucity of knowledge on chatroom (and more broadly CMC) interactions; what guides the interactions and how people negotiate virtual community culture are issues that remain unresolved. Baym (1995) suggested that future work with CMC ought to attend to the detailed contexts that ground particular groups’ behavior. For these reasons, ethnography is an ideal choice to further our knowledge of a particular chatroom community, in an attempt to understand more generally these processes. City, Texas—An AOL Chatroom Community On four separate evenings, I recorded all of the interactions in the public AOL chat room, City, TX. Each of these observations began between 9 and 10pm in the evenings and lasted approximately two hours. Each observation yielded between 20 and 30 pages of text (10 point Times New Roman, single-spaced). Thus, there was a substantial amount of data to use in drawing conclusions. The only times I engaged in the conversations was when a chat room member asked a question directed at me. In the chat rooms, two macro dynamics seem to happen; the first includes those discussions where people seemed to have few previous interpersonal relationships with chatroom participations and the second includes those discussions where there was a high degree of previous relationships among the participants. One interesting observation is that in the course of an evening and based on the interactions in the room, a particular chat room tends to fall into one of these two categories only. These dynamics are important because they shaped all aspects communication within the observations. Establishing Communication in Prior Relationship Categories

Authors: Diers, Audra.
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A Chatroom Ethnography
14
Despite a substantial recognition of the need and use of nonverbal elements of
communication, academic discussions of nonverbal use has not developed much beyond - and
/. Further, there is a paucity of knowledge on chatroom (and more broadly CMC) interactions;
what guides the interactions and how people negotiate virtual community culture are issues that
remain unresolved. Baym (1995) suggested that future work with CMC ought to attend to the
detailed contexts that ground particular groups’ behavior. For these reasons, ethnography is an
ideal choice to further our knowledge of a particular chatroom community, in an attempt to
understand more generally these processes.
City, Texas—An AOL Chatroom Community
On four separate evenings, I recorded all of the interactions in the public AOL chat room,
City, TX. Each of these observations began between 9 and 10pm in the evenings and lasted
approximately two hours. Each observation yielded between 20 and 30 pages of text (10 point
Times New Roman, single-spaced). Thus, there was a substantial amount of data to use in
drawing conclusions. The only times I engaged in the conversations was when a chat room
member asked a question directed at me. In the chat rooms, two macro dynamics seem to
happen; the first includes those discussions where people seemed to have few previous
interpersonal relationships with chatroom participations and the second includes those
discussions where there was a high degree of previous relationships among the participants. One
interesting observation is that in the course of an evening and based on the interactions in the
room, a particular chat room tends to fall into one of these two categories only. These dynamics
are important because they shaped all aspects communication within the observations.
Establishing Communication in Prior Relationship Categories


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