[Air-l] (no subject)

bromseth bromseth at uic.edu
Thu Oct 18 14:27:29 PDT 2001

Hi -
inspired by Nancys thoughts on the conference in Minneapolis, I thought I'd 
"chime in"... knowing that nobody saw me nodding my way through her e-mail 
when reading(oh, this text-based reader-invisible medium...): I share so many 
of the thoughts and impressions you are describing!

Doing research on CMC, usually situated in Norway - and far from what I 
experience as the north-american predominant research community, I have only 
had the opportunity to read litterature and follow the discussions on Aoir-l 
(and this list has really made a big difference in being able to get a feeling 
of what is going on). I had been looking intensly forward to this conference - 
putting faces to names, hoping to get to discuss with people with similar 
research interests as me, getting new input and feel the brain work and change 
from it, especially since I missed last years' conference. And I must say I 
got so much out of it that I could have been satisfied with half!

Like Nancy is writing, I had a similar feeling of "community" - even if I 
hadn't met most of the people at the conference before. I actually felt like 
"coming home" (I know it sounds a little halleluja, but that's what I felt!) - 
in some conferences/seminars you feel that you share certain perspectives , 
theoretical and methodological issues with the other participants/presenters, 
to a smaller or bigger degree, which in turn give you a feeling of belonging 
or not. I have been thinking of why I have this feeling- and to me I think it 
is not only sharing the "object of study", but also similarities in 
methodological approaches, focus on use and users - not the technology itself, 
many using critical theory as a basis, more focus on gender and/or race in a 
bigger degree than in other fields I relate to (and also more integrated as 
perspectives I think). Usually not more than two of my three "fields" or 
"research feet" that I'm leaning on are focused at the same time 
(communication/culture studies, gender studies and social scientific 
technology studies) - I felt that this conference gave input on all three 
areas - and to a large extent integrated with eachother. Maybe because the 
reserach field is so young (and small?), we all sort of relate to a lot of the 
same litterature to a greater extent - and because its relatively new have 
more discussions on a metalevel concerning theoretical consepts and/or the 
terminology on the concepts we study? 
It also felt satisfying that 2 (at least?) of the keynote speakers adressed 
gender and ethnicity issues in their speeches (I think the keynoters where 
really good on a whole too)
Anyway - even if it *is* a research field, an interdisciplinary network or 
whatever (depends also on the effort put into developing it further I would 
say?) I am deeply grateful to all organisers of the conference and the aoir- 
board for making an arena for meeting and developing issues and knowledge in 
Internet studies.

What I particularly learned and liked about the many presentations was the 
focus on not only what goes on on the internet as a medium (and its users and 
non-users) - but also; what discourses that are created *about* the Internet 
(in the media/society in general) as a social phenomena - and how they 
interrelate. I also think Lisa Nakamura made a really good point in the panel 
adressing Internet studies as critical studies, when pointing at why we should 
consider both these levels in a critical research approach of the Internet (if 
I understood her correctly..) - so that we also can participate and influence 
the discussions and negotiations on the development of the Internet and its 
content in the future.

Another panel engaging me deeply was the one on ethical issues related to 
doing Internet studies, that unfortunately was on Sunday and with very few 
attendants. These discussions will hopefully continue on the separate 
discussion list made by Amy Bruckman.

Anyway, I won't go into more detail about my own reflections, or this will be 
a very long e-mail.. But it is really nice to share a lot of common points of 
reference with all participants as a point of departure in future discussions 
(even if we probably attended quite different conferences dependent on which 
panels we went to).
Just a few comments on the practical part as an input for next years 
conference in Maastricht:
- Pre-conference workshops: I hope it is possible to arrange pre-conference 
work-shops before the conference, that will have enough seats for all who'd 
like to participate. It's a good way of "getting started", to be able to 
relate issues to own work and to get to know other participants (especially if 
there are no common lunch breaks)
- It would be very handy if there was a list of all participants at the 
conference, and their e-mail adresses. In that way it would be easier to 
contact all the people you wanted to speak to/get paper from, but never had 
time to approach at the conference..
- informal evening reception and dinner was great- lots of opportunities to 
meet people and discuss. I'd rather have that then evening sessions with paper 
presentations - at least I need time to consume and reflect on all the 
input!(and getting in touch with others is equally important I think!)

Thanks a million again, to all those people who worked so hard to arrange the 
conference. I can't wait to go to Maastricht! (and probably we will also be 
more than 2 from my country when it is in Europe!)

Best regards,
Janne Bromseth,
PhD-student at Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian 
University of Science and Technology
(at the moment situated at Department of Communication, UiC)

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