Blindfoldedly Feeling an E-lephant: Why studying the internet has got me all confused

sidewayslookatscience

Good afternoon, Internet.

And in that greeting lies my current problems.  What exactly goes on in the internet?  What are all those people doing with it? Who are you, internet user? How did you get here? Why are you looking at my stuff?  And what are you going to do with it afterwards, you sick freak?

Basically, as part of my research into online science-themed social networks, I’ve been making tentative steps into sociology of the internet.  Which, you may be surprised to hear, is a RATHER LARGE TOPIC.  There’s also rather a lot of people writing about it.1 Some of this lot suggest that, when you consider the history of mass communication, everything about the internet is just old news.  Sometimes they have a point, particularly when countering naysaying claims that the internet heralds the corruption of youth and the end of humanity.1   My favourite example of…

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