Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 The Gendered Mystique, by Leslie Regan Shade

Stone and Turkle: Forging New Research Territory

Both Stone and Turkle are entering new research territory, where the ethics of what Stone calls 'thick descriptions' in networked communities are in their formative state. Turkle's methodology consisted of both field research and a clinical component, where the identities of the informants was disguised and confidentiality is ensured. A special issue of the Information Society 12(2) examines some of the ethical issues that arise when social scientists research Internet communities and the myriad social dynamics of groups and diverse on-line forums, and suggests proposed ethical guidelines as to how human subjects guidelines should be framed in an era where the potential for studying ubiquitous networked communities is so readily at hand, yet subject to much abuse and misguided motivations.

Whereas Stone and Turkle deal in theories of gender construction and identity, and issues concerning power and dominance in networked communities, the --issue of access to the virtual systems, and the policy implications thereof, was not emphasized. Certainly Stone's histories of the early hackers and tech developers, and many of Turkle's informants, are from a rather well-educated and homogeneous community, and many were highly-informed and savvy women.

Fortunately, Dale Spender takes a look at the issue of access to the virtual world.


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