Whether people want to play games and download music, engage in social networking and professional collaboration, or view pornography and incite terror, the Internet provides myriad opportunities for people who share common interests to find each other. The contributors to this book argue that these self-selected online groups are best understood as tribes, with many of the same ramifications, both positive and negative, that tribalism has in the non-cyber world.
In Electronic Tribes, the authors of sixteen competitively selected essays provide an up-to-the-minute look at the social uses and occasional abuses of online communication in the new media era. They explore many current Internet subcultures, including MySpace.com, craftster.org, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, music downloading, white supremacist and other counterculture groups, and Nigerian e-mail scams. Their research raises compelling questions and some remarkable answers about the real-life social consequences of participating in electronic tribes. Collectively, the contributors to this book capture a profound shift in the way people connect, as communities formed by geographical proximity are giving way to communities—both online and offline—formed around ideas.
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TYRONE L. ADAMS is the Richard D'Aquin Professor of Journalism and Communications at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.
STEPHEN A. SMITH is Professor of Communication at the University of Arkansas.
"The major contribution of this book is that the idea of 'tribe' is fully and robustly explicated in ways that challenge existing wisdom, particularly the idea that Internet users are best understood as communities. . . . The richness of diverse research resources is evident in every chapter. I particularly commend the editors on the international perspective and the inclusion of such a surprising array of subcultures." (H. L. Goodall Jr., Director, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University)
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