[Air-l] Message board usage - and a reflection on changing research themes

David Brake d.r.brake at lse.ac.uk
Sat Dec 17 15:00:00 PST 2005

I've been asked to find out among other things what kinds of Internet  
bulletin boards are most used by young people and what proportion of  
young people visit them. I thought this kind of thing would be fairly  
easy to find out - after all bulletin boards/message boards/usenet  
were among the most studied forms of Internet use in the early days.  
But I am finding it surprisingly difficult to get this information as  
current surveys like the Pew and OxIS ones don't seem to track  
bulletin board use or virtual community participation at all (except  
insofar as it might be included in uses like "seeking sport  
information"). Is it because kids these days are all just using IM  
and writing Xanga blogs or do we only think this because we don't ask  
them about this kind of use any more?

Can anyone help with my statistical questions? And more generally  
does anyone else agree that as we keep chasing each new phenomenon  
(file sharing, IM, blogging, social network software) we risk losing  
track altogether of still extant and important practices (affinity  
group message board or mailing list use for example - or MUD use?) If  
these uses are indeed being displaced by other uses shouldn't we at  
least have a crack at measuring them so we can be sure they are gone  
so we can chart their decline as well as their rise?

David Brake, Doctoral Student in Media and Communications, London  
School of Economics & Political Science
Also see http://davidbrake.org/ (home page), http://blog.org/  
(personal weblog) and http://get.to/lseblog (academic groupblog)
Author of Dealing With E-Mail - <http://davidbrake.org/ 
callto://DavidBrake (Skype.com's Instant Messenger and net phone)

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