[Air-l] social class and online community, cont.(for Bonnie Nardi)

Brenda Danet brenda.danet at yale.edu
Sun Jan 7 12:36:52 PST 2007

Hi Bonnie:

I studied two online groups on IRC populated almost entirely by 
working class people. This was not a study comparing groups of 
differing social classes, but rather, case studies initially of two 
quite similar groups (one had spintered off from the other), and 
later on, a more extended study of one of the groups. Both groups 
communicate(d) mainly via text-based images, not words. Typical 
occupations of ops (IRC operators, who run the channels), include: 
truck driver, waitress, house cleaner, hardware salesman, etc. I 
learned of these occupations and others from online interviews with ops.

There is a chapter in my book Cyberpl at y: Communicating Online (Berg, 
Oxford, 2001) about these groups. The text and illustrations for this 
chapter are all online as the sample chapter, in the portion of my 
website devoted to Cyberpl at y. Go to 
http://pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il/~msdanet/cyberpl@y/sitemap.html and 
click on "sample chapter."

Since the publication of Cyberpl at y, I have published three more 
recent papers about one of the two groups, called "rainbow." (The 
other group no longer exists.)

"Pixel Patchwork: 'Quilting in Time' 
The Journal of Cloth & Culture 1 (2), 2003: 118-143. 
version, text only.

"'If You Have a Lot of Clutter It Messes Up the Popup:' The Pursuit 
of Good Gestalts in an Online Folk Art," 
The Journal of Cloth & Culture, special issue on "Digital Textiles 
1," Janis Jefferies, editor, 2 (3) 2004: 226-255. 

"Ritualized Play, Art and Communication on Internet Relay Chat." In 
Eric Rothenbuhler and Mihai Coman, eds., Media Anthropology (2005), 
pp. 229-246. Thousand Oaks, CA: 
Pre-publication version.

See also the rainbow website: http://www.mirc-rainbow.net/. 
Remarkably, this group, which was founded in May 1997, is apparently 
still going strong after nearly 10 years, despite a fair amount of turnover.

If you want to know more about rainbow people, their social 
background, and what keeps them coming back to the channel, feel free 
to contact me privately.

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