[Air-l] Aftermath of flame war

Stephanie Jo Kent kentcon at sover.net
Thu Sep 14 17:09:59 PDT 2006

I agree, Ingbert, this is an amazingly rich resource for study.   fyi, 
I did make an attempt to study a segment of discourse that occurred on 
this list last year after the bombings in London.  I contacted each of 
the participants for permission (informed consent).  Half responded, 
half did not.  Of those who did, I received permission only from a 
couple.  The others wanted to attach conditions.  I was discouraged.  

I would hesitate to state so unequivocally the labels you used to acts 
of discourse without a collective analysis, but the problem is that no 
one wants to be 'singled out' (as it were) as enacting an instantiation 
of most things, let alone most of the behaviors on your list.  Even to 
offer a specific example (which you did not) would potentially target 
someone and lead to who knows what unintended consequences.

Kevin proposed an alternative:

> I am not interested in (publicly) discussing this listserv and its
> recent and ongoing events.  What I am interesting in is expanding my
> own knowledge of relevant research which may inform the discussion and
> aid me in placing this into context.

I appreciate this impulse.  It may be an example of the kind of 
orientation that leads to the academic life: the consideration of 
theory and its application in other people's lives - in other words, in 
contexts other than our own.  :-/  BUT, here we are, "in" this context.

For myself, I want to work in both environments.  I want to use the 
skills of real-life intervention in academia, and bring the insights of 
academic theory and constructions of knowledge to everyday life.  
Perhaps there is a way to tack between the two proposals (yours and 
Kevin's) in a way that produces a framework for self-study that enough 
AoIR's would accept?


On Sep 14, 2006, at 2:03 PM, air-l-request at listserv.aoir.org wrote:

> Message: 11
> Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 11:39:12 -0500
> From: "Ingbert Floyd" <ifloyd2 at gmail.com>
> Subject: [Air-l] Aftermath of flame war
> To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
> Message-ID:
> 	<58b9f8580609140939p56f69a64p1c483e9ef2493ead at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
> Disclaimer: This email is *not* a criticism of the list, or of
> individuals on the list, please don't take it as such.
> I gotta say, I was very surprised by the length and intensity of the
> flame war on a list devoted to people who study such things.
> (Frankly, I ignored most of it, so I'm not in a position to take
> sides.)  But I'm quite fascinated by the aftermath.  I mean, I've seen
> messages of all different types, and some really interesting patterns
> are emerging:
> * paranoia - people (on both sides) seeing attacks where there weren't
> any (as far as I could tell);
> * reactive behavior - classification of human beings into clear
> categories (e.g., troll, academic, etc.), usually negative, and the
> consequential seeming inability to interpret text composed by the
> categorized person as being anything besides the stereotyped behavior
> of the category;
> * gang mentality vs. it's-me-against-the-world mentality, and how they
> seem to feed and nourish themselves on the other;
> * concilliatory behavior by people who want to see the dispute end
> ** and the outright rejection of the concilliatory behavior;
> * expressions of disgust and threats to leave as a different strategy
> for trying to end the disputes.
> ** and the disregard for (ignoring of) the negative attempts at trying
> to end the dispute;
> * and all kinds of attention-getting behavior in order to keep
> promoting the person's particular side of the argument--an inability
> to let go.
> More importantly, I see this as a wonderful opportunity.  We have a
> list full of people who study this kind of online behavior, and we
> have both observers/outsiders who had no part in the flame war, and we
> had participants from both sides, who can provide their insider
> perspective, and all of it will be informed by academic (in the
> non-pejorative sense) knowledge.  How much better of a research
> opportunity is this?  And we have the venue for collaboration already
> here: the AoIR list itself.  We don't seem to have lost any of the
> main participants (I could be wrong here), and we could go off-list to
> contact those people who did leave (we have their email addresses in
> the archives, no?).  I mean, we talk about collaboration a lot, well,
> here's a chance to explore a new type of academic publishing model
> (hey, at least anybody with tenure can afford to try it out), loosely
> based on the wikipedia model of massive participation and many eyes to
> capture all perspectives, except all the participants are academics.
> What do you think?  People always criticize academics for being behind
> the trends, struggling to catch up.  By developing a truly
> community-wide/community-inclusive research methodology we'd be ahead
> of the trend.
> And, who knows, the community-wide participation in such a positively
> oriented/constructive activity might just be the type of behavior we
> need to start the healing process ;)
> Ingbert
> Ingbert Floyd
> PhD Student
> Graduate School of Library and Information Science
> University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
> -- 
> ==========================================
> Check out the unofficial GSLIS Wiki:
> http://www.gslis.org/
> Tell me what you think, if you find it useful, or if you have any
> ideas for how to organize it better.  And if you feel comfortable
> doing so, I heartily encourage you to contribute content!
> This GSLIS is the Graduate School of Library and Information Science
> at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
> ------------------------------
> Message: 12
> Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 11:42:48 -0500
> From: "Kevin Guidry" <krguidry at gmail.com>
> Subject: [Air-l] Listserv Research
> To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
> Message-ID:
> 	<3d273fe80609140942ta95fbffw22a36a1ad6692d5e at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>    I'm fairly new to the list and I'm trying to place the recent
> metadiscussion about the listserv itself and participation in context
> with what I know about typical and historical behavior on and
> characteristics of listservs and listserv participants.
>    I am not interested in (publicly) discussing this listserv and its
> recent and ongoing events.  What I am interesting in is expanding my
> own knowledge of relevant research which may inform the discussion and
> aid me in placing this into context.  I am aware of some resources
> specifically related to this topic, particularly Brian Butler's 1999
> dissertation "The Dynamics of Cyberspace: Examining and Modelling
> Online Social Structure" and the works referenced therein.  However, I
> am having some difficulty locating additional and more recent relevant
> research as much of what I am finding is research performed *using*
> listservs but not *about* listservs.  I suspect that I may not be
> using the correct terminology or jargon to perform a sufficiently
> narrow search.  I also suspect that my topic may simply be too broad
> or undefined.  Can some kind soul please point me in the right
> direction or towards specific resources that may be useful?
>    I also have to wonder if my difficulty in finding more recent
> resources may be attributed to a dying off of listservs as they are
> replaced by wikis, blogs, bulletin boards, and other resources.  But
> that does not match my experience at all.  It may indeed happen over
> time but it seems that although younger persons are often dismissive
> of e-mail it many older persons, particularly in the professional
> worlds in which I have worked, still hold onto e-mail and thus
> perpetuate listservs as a viable, useful medium.
> Kevin Guidry
> Information Technology Fellow
> Sewanee: The University of the South
> ------------------------------

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