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Inscription and Interpretation of Text: A Cultural Hermeneutic Examination of Virtual Community
Information Research
  • Gary Burnett, Florida State University
  • Michael H. Dickey, Florida State University
  • Katherine M. Chudoba, Utah State University
  • Michelle M. Kazmer, Florida State University
Document Type
Professor T. D. Wilson
Publication Date
People engaging in electronic exchanges can create communities—places with socially constituted norms, values, and expectations. We adopt an anthropological perspective, yoked with a methodology based in hermeneutics, to illustrate how language use both reflects and influences culture in a virtual community. Our study analyses contributions to a Usenet newsgroup. Four elements of our conceptual model—coherence, reference, invention, and intention—provide mechanisms to examine a community's texts as it engages in social interaction and knowledge creation. While information exchange and socializing are intertwined, our model allows a robust understanding of the relationship between the two. Texts are not merely vehicles for communication but serve multiple purposes simultaneously. While they transfer information, texts also provide information within a social context, and create an expanding archive of socially-contextualized information well beyond the capabilities of any individual participant. This allows groups to negotiate reputations, socialize, and define the limits of their knowledge.
Originally published by Professor T.D. Wilson. HTML fulltext available through remote link.
Citation Information
Burnett, G., Dickey, M., Kazmer, M., Chudoba, K. (2003). Inscription and Interpretation of Text: A Cultural Hermeneutic Examination of Virtual Community. Information Research, 9(1), 162.