Procedures for Analyses of Online Communities

Authors

  • Devan Rosen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Currently a doctoral student at Cornell University in the Department of Communication, with a focus on Communication Technology and Networks. He received his B.A. at the University at Buffalo, Department of Communication, with a focus in Organizational and Intercultural Communication. He then worked in industry before returning to the University at Buffalo to receive his M.A. from the Department of Communicationm with a focus in Social Network Analysis and Organizational Communication. His research foci range from the self-organization and emergence of human interaction, to the use of social network measures and neural network applications for the longitudinal study of online communities.
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  • Joseph Woelfel,

    Corresponding author
    1. Received his Bachelor's degree from Canisius College, and his Master's and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has served on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Michigan State University, and the State University of New York at Albany, where he was Professor of Communication and Director of Research and Founding Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Information Science. He is currently Professor and former Chair of the Department of Communication at the University at Buffalo. Professor Woelfel was a Senior Fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu, a Fulbright scholar in Yugoslavia, and Senior Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York. Dr. Woelfel is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Measurement of Communication Processes: Galileo Theory and Method, with E. L. Fink. He is a principal developer of extensive computer software, including the suite of Galileo programs, and CATPAC, a text analysis program utilizing artificial neural technology. Dr. Woelfel has also served as president of Terra Research and Computing, and is currently president of The Galileo Company. Dr. Woelfel's clients include many of the Fortune Top 50, and his software is widely used in both academic and business settings worldwide. Current biography can be found in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in The World.
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  • Dean Krikorian,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dean H. Krikorian (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University. His research examines organizational communication, small group decision-making processes, and the Internet. He is director of the Cornell Communication Network Laboratory, which examines network communication patterns, particularly in online environments. He is currently developing network analytic software for Internet groups.
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  • George A. Barnett

    Corresponding author
    1. (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1976) is currently Chair and Professor of Communication at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Barnett has also taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Texas at Austin. He has written over 100 books, articles and conference papers on such topics as organizational, mass, international, intercultural, political, technical and scientific communication, as well as marketing communication, public relations and the diffusion of innovations. He has edited the Handbook of Organizational Communication (Ablex, Norwood NJ, 1988) and is currently editor of Organization <–>Communication: Emerging Perspectives and Progress in Communication Science. The goal of his current research is to describe the patterns of use or structure of international communication, in general, and telecommunications (telephone and computer based communication-the World Wide Web) in particular. He also has an interest is in the sociology of knowledge, especially as it applies to the field of communication. Currently, he is involved in a study that examines the absolute and distributed information in the field along with its applications to other social organizations.
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Address: Department of Communication, Cornell University, 336 Kennedy Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4203.

Address: Department of Communication, State University of New York at Buffalo, 528 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-1020.

Abstract

This article details a set of procedures for the analysis and interpretation of the content and structure of online networks and communities. These novel methods allow for the analysis of online chat, including parsing the data into separate and interrelated files to determine individual, group and organizational patterns. An illustrative example of an educational online community in Active Worlds Educational Universe (AWEDU) is provided that uses three-dimensional virtual worlds for student interaction. Findings from semantic network analysis procedures reveal elements of the online interaction that would otherwise be difficult to extract given the great amount of textual data produced in such communities. The case study allows for qualitative and quantitative analyses. The limitations of the procedures are discussed along with planned developments and their social implications.

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