Introduction to the Special Issues about Online Relationships
by A. Baker
The three papers in this issue cover very diverse aspects of online relationships using different methods of investigation. They each discuss work-related situations observed and analyzed by the authors, who participated in the settings they describe. The online environments here include a five-week conference on networking run by paid moderators, an educational seminar formed for exchange of ideas, and a business classroom connected by video to another group of undergraduates.
The papers that will appear in the next issue (in July 1998) are about purely social relationships, including interactions in a chatroom for Native Americans and couples who first met online to forge primary connections for intimate partnering. What we have in the set of papers is a look at the effectiveness of various ways to use the computer for communication, and for the building of bonds which may or may not progress offline to real life (RL).
The first piece is Scott Crawfordís analysis of a conference designed to promote discussion of community issues where he documents the effects of professional facilitators upon the postings of participants. Then Cyd Strickland tells us how formal efforts in a graduate seminar led to feelings of knowing and liking among a few of those involved. As a management trainer, Brian Hoyt has used video conferencing to assess which elements of online collaboration may either enhance a project or detract from it.
Andrea Baker is a sociologist at Ohio University, Lancaster where she does research on Internet issues. She seeks couples who met in cyberpace for her ongoing "Online Couples Project". Please write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1998 by Andrea Baker. All Rights Reserved.