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Subject: Re: Definition of community
From: Ryan Lanham <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Ryan Lanham <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 21 Sep 2006 10:24:00 -0400
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*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

Has anyone studied "lurkers" in communities or networks?  I am reminded
of Erving Goffman's famous front stage/back stage metaphors.  What role
do lurkers perform?  Are they actors?  Is there an audience effect to
discourse on listservs?  

We "publish" to literally (at least etymologically) to make things
public.  Of course that is no long the primary purpose of publishing--it
has lost the ends for the means.  We publish now to build careers.  But
listservs are different.  Their immediacy gives an unknown actor--the
lurker--strange powers.  What are they?  What can be known about
lurkers?

I see a sort of capacitance issue again.  Someone builds up (or doesn't
a charge) and then discharges iff certain events occur.  Discourse must
press certainly ontological boundary objects for these discharges to
surface.  Or perhaps those happen in people's lives.  Assassins strike
when officials are having highly visible portions of their career.  In
short, boundary stresses provoke "lurkers" whether they are constructive
or destructive.  

Much is written on democratic participation.  Do they know anything
about lurkers in that part of the discourse universe?  What about
lurkers in markets in business?  What role do they have?  There must be
some sort of information theory of this.

Ryan Lanham

>long time lurker but first time poster to this "community"  ;-)
>
>Samer Faraj

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