Main Course pt.1
Wallace, P. (1999). Group dynamics in cyberspace. The psychology of the Internet (pp. 55-83). London: Cambridge University Press. [Read this eBook - MSU authorized users]
Main Course pt.2
Williams, D. (2007, in press). The impact of time online: Social capital and cyberbalkanization. CyberPsychology & Behavior.
Nie, N.H., & Hillygus, D.S. (2002). The impact of internet use on sociability: Time-diary findings. IT & Society 1(1),1-20. Available at http://www.stanford.edu/group/siqss/itandsociety/v01i01/v01i01a01.pdf
Wallace, P. (1999). pp.55-83
In this chapter, Wallace elaborates the ideas of belonging, loyalty, and commitment of group behavior. The discussion starts with observations of new groups formed through online forums departed easily in a short time. But there are evidences of "groupness" emerged among the huge number of forums and chatrooms online. Early on 1993, there were research showed the dynamic made participants bond together have something to do with information seeking, personal experience connection and community senses. Basically, the idea of group has the elements of a population of participation of participants and communicative activities through which participants influence each other. There are instinct difference in how participants of groups influence each other between face-to-face group and online group in which participants never meet each other face-to-face. the authors developed their discussion in a way of understanding the influence mechanism of real life group and then compareing with the online case.
Conformation has been observed in real world for group activities but drop dramatically in online group. According to Wallace, that is because individuals perceived they are equal in power and knowledge with other online partners. (Comments: As a result of physical absence, this may be one of the reasons that why people feel much sager and freer when they are online.) So, there are some essential difference in what the strength make the basic group norms work in online or offline context. Because the established channels, in face-to-face groups, to learn accepted behaviors by observing others or collecting nonverbal signs are not available in online context, participants have to apply different channels to learn conventions and customs while they are online. However, the different ways people learn conventions online are always connected with virtual habitats in real life. Instead of a whole new set of rules, the ways online are evolved from real life niches, developed from real life into online environment, a part of people's life, which, together with face-to-face life, makes a whole. The channels are mainly constructed with verbal cues and signs. In a more serious level, the online community has to be regulated by certain sub-groups for an orderly environment to maintain normal functions. When individuals are online as a group member, they show groups polarization tendency depending on whether the individuals feel like they are a part of the group.
The disappearance of geographical limitation make the possibilities of people's finding the groups of interest infinite.
Compared to open system group behavior dynamics, work groups dynamics also shows different patterns in face-to-face interaction and online interaction. It is important to understand the mechanism and to take the advantages of the effectiveness of virtual work groups. This is very important and practical for various organizations. According to Wallace's observation, online groups behave differently during discussion with a more skewed bias. Also, minority can express freer about their ideas in online discussion than those offline counterparts. Another major findings for workgroup meeting online is that the brainstorming activity practiced online is more effective for more ideas than face-to-face ones where individuals have to take turns to address their ideas and have their ideas-development be interrupted by others. (This could be very supportive for the group project.)
Williams, D. (2007, in press).
To understand in a more comprehensive way what online activities can impact on individuals' lives, especially online and off-line social capitals, and psychological profiles. To observe the outcome of social networks, Williams applied the concepts of "bridging" and "bonding" to observe the outcome of social networks: bridging--inclusive social capital, new resources of social network, little emotional support; applied to people with different backgrounds and weak relationships, inch deep mile wide. Bonding--exclusive social capital, strong emotional support; applied to people with less diverse backgrounds, and strong relationship. Closely connected with previous studies, the result provided a set of inter-correlated evidences. The study found significant correlation of bonding social capital with offline time and bridging social capital with online. What examined by Nie (summarized below) was supported. The other meaningful findings from this study were that internet encourages online social capital; offline, actually, had higher outgroup antagonism than online; women were more likely to lose their offline social capital if they spent more time online than men; higher level extroversion people shown much less possibilities of loneliness online while lower level extroversion people felt increasing loneliness.
Nie, N.H., & Hillygus, D.S. (2002).
This article focused on identifying possible impact of internet on sociability, specifically sociability based on face-to-face interactions. The authors started with the hypotheses that internet changed the allocation of individuals' time usage. The authors used a time-diary based survey in which participants responded with recall on six time blocks of "yesterday". The study was conducted with a large sample size n=6146 with a with age range from 18 to 64. The findings supported the hypothesis that more time online at home or during weekends had the cost of less time socializing with friends and families. Another hypothesis on efficiency, assuming internet may provide technology to make people engage more in social activities, was not supported by any findings.
What do you see as *the* strong pull towards online socializing?
Well, it depends. It depends on what levels of socializing we are talking about, what is the participants' background, such as age, education, and even vocation, and what are the purposes or motivations of the individuals' being online. It is not just a result of some simple feature of the online environment. Among the tons of activities people can do online, such as shopping, distance learning, information searching (news, medical information, information for goods, academic articles...), entertaining (YouTube, online music...), or gaming, etc, socializing could be the only goal and activity some individuals are working on, or it could be a by-product from other online activity, such as gaming and entertaining. For both face-to-face and online socializing, the essence is people are meeting with others and seeking the sense of belongings as part of human needs. For some people, their motivation of online socializing could be just meet with others, as an extension of their face-to-face life. For some others, their online socializing is more motivated by their eagerness to meet with real person, most of the cases are strangers. I will develop my discussion for the case in which people only experience online socializing without meeting the real person, person from work, or strangers.
From my own experiences and readings of the course, I will argue there are three basic attractive factors possessed by online socializing. One is the infinite possibilities offered by online socializing through which individuals can develop their interests with like mind on a much freer level, a level that individuals can meet their groups of interests at anytime during the day, anywhere they travel, without fear of violating conventions created in face-to-face socializing. The second is that individuals are free from any commitment to any online socializing relationships or groups, which is not possible in face-to-face socializing. They are safer to develop their socializing experiences and free to connect or disconnect with any social groups online without hardness or embarrassment they may likely to face in face-to-face socialization because of the customs and conventions. The last one is that, while online, individuals are not facing the pressure of the socially constructed "self" in face-to-face environment, the fixed impression of who they are, what they are good at, what they are not good at......
My questions from the readings and questions for Discussion in class:
1. Even though William provided some background information about social capital, it is not clear enough to understand to concept. In different fields of sociology and business, the concept of social capital may vary. But it is necessary for us to discuss the understanding of social capital under the online socializing context.