paper and projects: cyber-ethnograhy

The idea of what constitutes a group has necessarily changed as modern society has evolved. Just what do you call a bunch of people who gather together to share interests, offer advice, provide support, or exchange ideas but who never meet in person and may not know each other’s real names? Such groups have come to be known as virtual communities. When usage of the internet became widespread in the 1990’s, there were few rules about how people should communicate. In addition, early virtual communities lacked the sense of organization that we often associate with other groups. However, soon sociologists who study the internet began to see traditions, roles and norms emerging as online members were socialized into belonging. Beyond the social rules that may govern a space, most online communities also observe certain standards for communicating as well as use of special online language.This homework assignment has you conduct a sort of ‘cyber-ethnography’ to examine how group values and norms are expressed in online communities. Choose an active site, preferably one that is not bizarre or extreme. Gather examples of the roles, language, norms, and expectations, either formal or informal, of this online group. One place to look is in the FAQ section of a website, but the elements of cyber-group life are present in all online interactions in one form or another. So immerse yourself in those interactions until you feel you have a sense of the life of this particular group.Be particularly aware of roles (what does the moderator do regarding newcomers or rule breakers? What other roles can you identify?),language (common terms used, use of emoticons, acronyms, etc.), and norms and expectations (what are the social expectations of the group? What if someone breaks the social rules?)Paper should be between 3-5 pages (750-1000words) double spaced, normal margins, in Arial, Tahoma or Times New Roman font, plus your reference page. As this is an academic paper, use of proper references is required and should be cited APA style.