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A chatroom ethnography: Evolution of community, norms, nonverbal communication
Unformatted Document Text:  A Chatroom Ethnography 9 that community. As Crawford (1996) critiques traditional ethnography, he suggests that auto- ethnography is more advantageous because it is mindful of other relationships, less intrusive, and maintains modesty. Yet, in the spirit of being mindful of other relationships, Holstein and Gubrium (1995) suggest that when we interpret meaning about any group that we should constantly engage in collaborative construction and piece together different stories of what it means to be a member of a particular group or community. This suggests that, as long as the researcher can create an artful fiction offering thick description of the phenomena of interest that also resonates with the group studied (Clifford, 1986; Geertz, 1973; VanMannen, 1995), that traditional ethnographic methods are also appropriate in the explication. Virtual Communities, Norms, and Nonverbal Communication and CMC As a unit of ethnographic analysis, virtual communities are a new and relatively untapped resource. Consequently, the particulars of such communities, their norms, and ways of communicating are also relatively untapped resources for understanding groups. Jones (1997) suggests that virtual communities ought to be considered on the same level as traditional communities because they are social collections that emerge after periods of interaction evoking feelings of belongingness and are vehicles for the formation of interpersonal relationships among members. He also argues that there are four criteria that can establish a group as a community and that virtual communities can also meet these criteria. First, there must be a minimum level of interactivity. Because the technology has enabled people, face-to-face (FTF) interactions are no longer necessary to establish a minimum level of interactivity. Second, there must be a variety of communicators to describe a virtual locale as a community. This is related to the interactivity criterion and indicates that there should be more than two people interacting. Third, there must be a common public space where a significant portion of the community’s interaction may take

Authors: Diers, Audra.
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A Chatroom Ethnography
9
that community. As Crawford (1996) critiques traditional ethnography, he suggests that auto-
ethnography is more advantageous because it is mindful of other relationships, less intrusive, and
maintains modesty. Yet, in the spirit of being mindful of other relationships, Holstein and
Gubrium (1995) suggest that when we interpret meaning about any group that we should
constantly engage in collaborative construction and piece together different stories of what it
means to be a member of a particular group or community. This suggests that, as long as the
researcher can create an artful fiction offering thick description of the phenomena of interest that
also resonates with the group studied (Clifford, 1986; Geertz, 1973; VanMannen, 1995), that
traditional ethnographic methods are also appropriate in the explication.
Virtual Communities, Norms, and Nonverbal Communication and CMC
As a unit of ethnographic analysis, virtual communities are a new and relatively untapped
resource. Consequently, the particulars of such communities, their norms, and ways of
communicating are also relatively untapped resources for understanding groups. Jones (1997)
suggests that virtual communities ought to be considered on the same level as traditional
communities because they are social collections that emerge after periods of interaction evoking
feelings of belongingness and are vehicles for the formation of interpersonal relationships among
members. He also argues that there are four criteria that can establish a group as a community
and that virtual communities can also meet these criteria. First, there must be a minimum level of
interactivity. Because the technology has enabled people, face-to-face (FTF) interactions are no
longer necessary to establish a minimum level of interactivity. Second, there must be a variety of
communicators to describe a virtual locale as a community. This is related to the interactivity
criterion and indicates that there should be more than two people interacting. Third, there must
be a common public space where a significant portion of the community’s interaction may take


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