Online Symposium - The Ethics of Research in Virtual Communities

The issue of media ethics has been raised several times in the last few
months, and so this virtual conference may be of interest to subscribers. 

Ted Resnick


		The Ethics of Research in Virtual Communities

			     An Online Symposium
		    in honor of MediaMOO's Fourth Birthday

			     Monday, January 20th
		       Symposium: 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM ET
				 Followed by
	   The Fourth MediaMOO Anniversary Ball: 4:30 - 6:00 PM ET

			   To connect to MediaMOO:
		      telnet mediamoo.media.mit.edu 8888
		Or see http://www.media.mit.edu/~asb/MediaMOO/


Electronic communications media pose new ethical dilemmas for researchers.
Can a post from a mailing list be quoted without permission?  Should the
character names of participants in a MUD be changed before publication?  Under
what circumstances does the researcher need to announce his or her presence to
the community?  Is logging a conversation in a chat room more like overhearing
something in the park, or going to someone's home with a concealed tape
recorder?  To complicate matters, the answers to these sorts of questions are
often contingent on the profession of the researcher--anthropologists,
journalists, and political scientists are all subject to different
professional ethics standards. It's no wonder that participants in such
communities lack shared expectations about when they can expect privacy and
when they are subject to observation.  In this online discussion, attendees
will discuss these issues, and evaluate several proposed statements of
professional ethics for research online.

FEATURED PANELISTS (in alphabetical order):

Amy Bruckman is a doctoral candidate at the Media Lab at MIT, where she does
research on virtual communities.  She is the founder of MediaMOO (a text-based
virtual reality environment or "MUD" designed to be a professional community
for media researchers), and MOOSE Crossing (A MUD designed to be a
constructionist learning environment for kids.)  MOOSE Crossing includes a new
programming language, MOOSE, designed to make it easier for kids to learn to
program.  Amy received her master's degree from the Media Lab's Interactive
Cinema Group in 1991, and her bachelors in physics from Harvard University in
1987.  More information about her work is available at

Lynn Cherny is a researcher at AT&T Labs--Research studying electronic
communities.  She has an M.Phil.  from Cambridge University in Computer Speech
and Language Processing and a Ph.D. from Stanford in Linguistics.  Her
dissertation, forthcoming from CSLI Publications, was an ethnolinguistic study
of conversation and community in a social MOO.  She is the co-editor (with
Elizabeth Reba Weise) of _Wired_Women: Gender and New Realities in
Cyberspace_, a collection of essays about gender and women's experiences in
different Internet communities (Seal Press, 1996).  More of her work can be
found at http://akpublic.research.att.com/~cherny/.

David Jacobson is a professor of social anthropology at Brandeis University
with an interest in virtual ethnography. He is the author of _Reading
Ethnography_ (and other books about urban Africans and nuclear espionage) and,
more recently, a paper about mooing, "Contexts and Cues in Cyberspace."

Lee-Ellen Marvin is a graduate student in Folklore and Folklife at the
University of Pennsylvania.  She brings to her studies of narrative and
creative speech events, many years of experience as a professional
storyteller and radio producer.  She's published one study of MOO culture,
available on-line at:  http://shum.huji.ac.il/jcmc/vol1/issue2/marvin.html,
and is working on a second paper to be presented at the Western
Communication Conference in February of this year.

Malcolm (Mac) Parks is Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the
University of Washington.  His primary research line is concerned with the
development of personal relationships and social networks.   His recent
work on relationships in computer-mediated settings includes a study of
relationships formed through Usenet newsgroups and an on-going study of
relationships development in MOOs.

... and other members of the MediaMOO community.

Please join us after the symposium for the annual MediaMOO Anniversary Ball!


MediaMOO is a MUD designed to be a professional community for media
researchers.  MediaMOO first opened to the public with The MediaMOO Inaugural
Ball on January 20th, 1993.  New members are welcome.  More information is
available at http://www.media.mit.edu/~asb/MediaMOO/

Ted Resnick -- Online Marketing Manager -- http://www.excite.com/
http://tours.excite.com | http://live.excite.com | http://city.net
Excite supports my online activities, but my opinions are my own. 
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