"A little later a beastlord joined the group… Networking through blood & beyond"
in Jakobsson, > & Taylor, T.L. (2003). The Sopranos Meets Everquest: Social Networking in Massively Multiplayer Online Games. MelbourneDAC2003, Melbourne, Australia.
This article explores the ways social interaction plays an integral role in the game EverQuest. Through our research we argue that social networks form a powerful component of the gameplay and the gaming experience, one that must be seriously considered to understand the nature of massively multiplayer online games. We discuss the discrepancy between how the game is portrayed and how it is actually played. By examining the role of social networks and interactions we seek to explore how the friendships between the players could be considered the ultimate exploit of the game.
Two more papers from Monica Whitty, both of which are over a decade old, but are still v interes to consider, particularly as the rules of the game in even the leanest of media (text-only) are still the same as the richest (f2f).
First: what relationships mean
Whitty, M. & Gavin, J. (2001). Age/Sex/Location: Uncovering the Social Cues in the Development of Online Relationships. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 4(5).
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Past research on online relationships has predominantly been concerned with how the quality of online relationships compares with offline relationships. This research has been more concerned with the medium itself than with the meanings that users construct around their interpersonal interactions within this medium. The current paper seeks to redress this imbalance by exploring the ways that available social cues are used to shape the meanings of online relationships. Sixty Internet users, ranging in age from 19–51 years, were interviewed about their online relationships. It was found that ideals that are important in traditional relationships, such as trust, honesty, and commitment are just as important in online relationships; however, the cues that signify these ideals vary.
Next: how we flirt
Whitty, M.T. (2003). Cyber-flirting: Playing at love on the Internet. Theory and Psychology, 13(3), 339-357.
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While there exists some research on offline flirting, there is currently little in the way of conceptual theory or empirical research on flirting in cyberspace. This paper attempts to help redress this balance. The paper initially presents a summary of the behaviour of offline flirting and particularly identifies what constitutes offline flirting signals. Given this background context, suggestions are made as to how we might better conceptualize online flirting. The prevailing wisdom has been that we should focus on the absence of the body in cyberspace. This view is challenged here. Instead,it is argued that researchers should re-orient their focus to how the body is reconstructed online. Winnicott’s notions of ‘potential space’ and ‘transitional objects’ are drawn upon in this paper to advance an argument that online flirting should be considered as a form of play. In making this argument, it is contended that online flirting has unique aspects in comparison to offline flirting. In particular, while realistic elements are present in online flirting, there is a blurring between what is reality and fantasy when one engages in flirtatious behaviour on the Internet.
note & quote:
almost a decade old (and situated in text-based communications, Whitty readily admits), this is still an inters paper. Nice summary of courtship rituals and gender roles and how they’ve changed, and a provocative proposal about how women still make the first move even in a world when it’s expected that men should: through non-verbal flirting language. I like her description of how people cyberflirt here:
Demure glances and eyebrow flashes are not easily replicated online. However, there are some alternatives to these non-verbal gestures. For example, emoticons, which are drawings made from grammatical symbols, might be a useful alternative. We can use facial expressions such as smiley faces, winks and kisses as a substitute for body language. Moreover, rather than use audible laughing and giggling, individuals can use acronyms, such as LOL (laugh out loud or lots of laughs) and < BG> (Big Grin). Screen names are another device people can add to their repertoire of online flirting behaviours.
Monica Whitty (@cyberpsy on twitter) is a prolific online relationship researcher. But rather than overwhelm this blog with post after post after post summarising her extensive work on cyber-infidelity, I thought I’d consolidate her work here. Read on for links, notes and quotes from three papers, including what kinds of relationships people develop online, why they cheat, and what online affairs mean for offline partnerships.
or go here for an interview with Monica for the original Untangling the Web column on love from last year.
Coombs, R. H. & Kenkel, W.F. (1966). Sex differences in dating aspirations and satisfaction with computer-selected partners. Journal of Marriage & Family, Vol 1: 62-66.
The structural-functional views of Talcott Parsons are used as the rationale for predicting sex differences in dating aspirations and partner satisfaction. Blind dates were arranged for 300 male and 300 female students by an LB.M. computer. Evidence was found to support the hypotheses that 1) women would have higher aspirations for a dating partner, in the sense of more socially desired characteristics, than would men; and that 2) women would register a high degree of satisfaction less frequently than men following the first date. The findings are compared with popular notions of male-female tendencies for romantic love at first acquaintance.
I have access to full text. Here are my notes and quotes. First, some context:
Since family status is largely determined by the income and prestige level of the husband’s occupation, the masculine role is firmly anchored in this occupational structure. A boy soon learns that the only way to become a real man in our society is to have a good job and to earn an adequate living. However, the dominant adult female role, particularly among middle-class families, is that of housewife and mother. Structurally, the importance of this sex role differentiation, aside from providing household and children care, is the shielding of the wife from competition in the occupational sphere, thus fostering a feeling of self-respect for the breadwinner and harmony for the family unit.
priceless. thank god for women’s liberation.
here’s where the computer comes in:
This was a special campus dance in which students were paired by use of an I.B.M. 7074 computer. Prior to the dance, 500 college men and 500 college women completed a questionnaire giving background information on themselves and stating the qualities they desired in a dating partner.
and those results:
In general, the girls had more rigid standards for their computer-arranged partners than did the men…on seven of the eight measures utilized, the female participants specified higher hopes for their partners than did their male counterparts…The only factor that was not rated higher by girls than by men was physical attractiveness; men were much more enthusiastic about having a “good looking” partner than were women.
doesn’t deconstruct the efficacy of the computer matching system at all.
Dutton, W, H., Helsper, E.J., Whitty, M.T., Li, N., Buckwalter, J.G. & Lee, E. (2009) The Role of the Internet in Reconfiguring Marriages: a Cross-National Study. Interpersona, 3(2), 3-18.
This study explores the role of the Internet in reconfiguring marriages, introducing couples that meet in person and later marry, through a set of online surveys of married couples in Britain, Australia, and Spain. The study found that a sizeable proportion of online married couples in each country first met their spouse online, usually through an online dating service, chat room or on instant messaging (IM). This was more the case for younger couples. Moreover, the study indicates that meeting online is likely to introduce people to others whom they would not be as likely to meet through other means. The Internet might well open people to more diversity in their choice of a partner, such as by introducing individuals with greater differences in age or education, but with more similar interests and values. These findings are preliminary, but suggestive of significant social trends and indirect implications of social networking in the digital age.
notes and quotes:
OxIS showed that in 2007, almost a quarter of Internet users (23%) had met someone online who they did not know before. This was up from 20 percent in 2005. Not only did Internet users meet new friends online, about half of these individuals have gone on to meet one or more of these virtual friends in person
Socio-demographic characteristics, such as being single, shape patterns of Internet use and are related to the greater propensity of some individuals to make online social relationships
In the UK, about 6% of married couples who use the Internet met their partners online and a similar proportion is reported in Spain (5%). In Australia, with younger married couples, the percentage was higher, 9% saying they met their partner online.
NOTE: the mean length of time the couples in this study had been married was between 10 months (US) and 19 years (UK), which will affect the proportion of people who met online
In the UK, a fifth (21%) of married individuals between 19 and 25 years of age met their spouse online, while in Australia, this figure was even higher, one-third (34%). In the US, the largest percentage of individuals meeting online (42%) could be found within the age group of 26 to 35 years.
In the UK, an online dating site was the most frequently mentioned as a place where the couple met online, by 34%. This was followed by online chat rooms (19%) and instant messaging (18%). In Spain, chat rooms were the most frequently mentioned (40%), followed by instant messaging (22%) and online dating sites (14%). …In Australia most people [met] through chat rooms (26%), followed by an online dating site (18%) and instant messaging (23%). The pattern in the US was similar to that of the UK with most people meeting through an online dating site (49%), followed by chat rooms (13%) and instant messaging (12%).
the frequency of couples meeting online is likely to increase in the coming years. Younger couples were more likely to meet online, and OxIS suggests that those growing up with the Internet are likely to take this medium as a more natural place to meet people, generally (Dutton & Helsper 2007)
social networking sites are becoming more prominent in linking people through common friends and social networks, and therefore likely to grow in their relevance to dating and partnerships
individuals who met their spouse on the Internet showed a larger difference in age and educational background with their spouse than those who met offline.
those who met their partner online did not place less importance on physical attraction than did those who met each other in other ways
it may be that those who met online have more similar interests which could be one reason why age and educational backgrounds appear less determinative of relationships.
couples who meet online place greater emphasis in a variety of partner characteristics, suggesting that meeting someone online may be a more measured and selective way to find a partner…Alternatively, it could be that interactions online are driven more by cognitions, rather than emotions, leading people to be more attentive to characteristics important to them and less influenced by characteristics not as relevant but more embedded in their present social networks, such as age and socioeconomic status.
"sharing personal information with students (on Twitter) can increase the perceived credibility of the instructor"
Johnson, K. A. (2011). The effect of Twitter posts on students’ perceptions of instructor credibility. Learning, Media and Technology, Vol 36(1): 21-38.
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A small-scale study that shows an increase in students’ perceptions of instructor credibility (competence, trustworthiness & caring) as a function of self-disclosure on Twitter. Specifically there was evidence for an increase in ratings of credibility if the instructor used the microblogging platform to tweet about personal information.
Interestingly, there was no evidence of an effect between social-only tweets (greatest credibility of all) and a combination of social and instructional tweets, or instructional-only tweets and the combination of social and instructional tweets.
I like this explanation:
No longer do teachers need to use class time to reveal bits of personal information about themselves: instead, this revelation of information can take place outside of class in a forum where students can choose whether to look at it.
"In our study we witnessed a divided blogosphere: liberals and conservatives linking primarily within their separate communities, with far fewer cross-links exchanged between them"
Adamic, L & Glance, N. (2005). The political blogosphere and the 2004 US Election: Divided they blog. Proceedings of the 3rd international workshop on Link discovery, p.36-43.
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A lovely example of the echo chamber effect in online conversations. In this paper, Lada and Natalie analyse an impressive amount of linking data to identify how often the top 40 political blogs linked to one another. They found that the two parties kept themselves to themselves, linking between one another very little. Interestingly, the conservatives were more likely to link to the liberals than the other way around.
Great study. Still stands.