SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

This study explores the use of freely available search engines to locate mediated interaction on the World Wide Web. We use the concepts of mediated interaction and quasi-interaction as developed by Thompson (Thompson, 1995) and Slevin (Slevin, 2000). We conclude that the publicly available search engines lack stability of results, that their behavior is not transparent, and that they do not present the results in a way that is suitable for the creation of data sets. The study confirms that the Internet and the World Wide Web can mainly be characterized as instantiations of mediated quasi-interaction rather than of mediated interaction. Internet researchers might consider not only to try to develop better search software, but also tools that can archive publicly available mediated interaction in real time at a large scale. Even with improved tools, however, we should not expect that the Internet will give us anything like “total data” about social life. The use of information and discussion on the Internet in off-line contexts cannot be deduced from the Internet itself. To answer these questions, Internet research must be combined with off-line interviews, observation and surveys.