[Air-l] we need a better word than lurking

Bonnie Nardi nardi at ics.uci.edu
Tue May 8 06:51:27 PDT 2007


Dear readers,

I have enjoyed this thoughtful discussion.

The term lurker, with its negative connotations of passivity, is an 
ironic reference in the context of online *communities* where some 
people do not participate.

But many, or most, online forums such as blogs do not host communities 
-- they host a diverse collection of readers. Some of the readers read 
and do not comment. And that's just ducky as far as I'm concerned.  
Readers do many other things  --- like think about what they have read, 
talk to other people about it who may or may not have read it, add 
links to their own websites, and so on. Urging everyone to participate 
in a particular blog/forum/wiki would be awful, as noted in this 
discussion. Not having the presumed presence of a diverse collection of 
readers would be disappointing too, as also noted.

In my publications, I use the word "readers" to talk about people who 
read blogs and such.

Best,

--

Bonnie

On May 8, 2007, at 12:55 AM, Peter Timusk wrote:

> I just want to add a couple of incomplete thoughts. I advocate and
> study "participatory democracy" via green party activism, grassroots
> organising ( any poly scientists here?) The green party was I believe
> and we claim the first Canadian party on-line.
>
> also in academic terms I have recently completed a number of courses
> where either usenet or other on-line participation allowed me a
> better grade by my being an internet junkie. I know some feel that
> active participation is full of half baked ideas and unfounded
> statements but I argue that this is only a piece in an active
> learning process. And why the teacher must also participate with
> guidance as too good scholarship.
>
> I sure that when school requires doing "group work" in the social
> sciences, that the convergence of work place software for group work
> with school work results in productivity. Perhaps lurkers would
> differ in opinion but I agree in the union sense of undemocratic
> these are free riders.
>
> Peter Timusk,
> B.Math statistics (2002), B.A. legal studies (2006) Carleton University
> Systems Science Graduate student, University of Ottawa (2006-2008).
> just trying to stay linear.
> Read by hundreds of lurkers every week.
>
>
>
>
> On 7-May-07, at 6:59 PM, Kurt Luther wrote:
>
>> A few relevant readings on the topic, mostly echoing Barry's
>> observations:
>>
>> Blair Nonnecke and Jenny Preece describe lurker practices and discuss
>> some of the problems with defining "lurker." "It is unfortunate
>> that the
>> term lurker, with all its negative conntation, has gained
>> acceptance...Rather than being free-riders, lurkers should be called
>> participants..."
>> http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/332040.332409
>>
>> Brad Horowitz gives his theory of the relationship between what he
>> calls
>> creators, synthesizers, and producers. "...we don’t need to convert
>> 100%
>> of the audience into 'active' participants to have a thriving product
>> that benefits tens of millions of users. In fact, there are many
>> reasons
>> why you wouldn’t want to do this. The hurdles that users cross as they
>> transition from lurkers to synthesizers to creators are also filters
>> that can eliminate noise from signal. "
>> http://www.elatable.com/blog/?p=5
>>
>> Kurt
>>
>>
>> Barry Wellman wrote:
>>> John Veitch gave us a useful post that showed that most people Lurk.
>>> Altho John didn't explicitly say so, the general implication is that
>>> Lurking Is a Bad Thing.
>>> But imagine if everybody was actively contributing all the time.
>>> We'd be
>>> filled with noise. (As it is, I wonder about some of the posts on
>>> this
>>> list, including mine;-))
>>> I absolutely don't want my 13-year old cousin (whom I love dearly) to
>>> contribute to the Social Networks article, or probably anything
>>> else. Nor,
>>> in fact, do I want some ignorant person to contribute.
>>> I am not for credentialism, but I am for knowledge and expertise.
>>>
>>> Indeed, 99% of the time, I am a Reader only of Wikipedia articles.
>>> I try
>>> only to contribute when I actually know something, like Social
>>> Network,
>>> Bronx High School of Science, and Barbra Streisand.
>>>
>>> YMMV
>>>
>>>  Barry Wellman
>>>
>>> _____________________________________________________________________
>>>
>>>   Barry Wellman   S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology   NetLab Director
>>>   Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
>>>   455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162
>>>   wellman at chass.utoronto.ca  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman
>>>         for fun: http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
>>>
>>> _____________________________________________________________________
>>>
>>>
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Bonnie A. Nardi
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3440
(949) 824-6534
www.artifex.org/~bonnie/




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