- Apr 2017
Studied mailing lists just before the internet was opened to the publis in 1992 by the NSF.
p. 135 found only one instance of a list owner threatening to remove somebody from a list.
many respondents tended to prefer moderated electronic mailing lists that are used for information purposes and not for holding discussions.
pp. 118-119 She's surprised by how little discussion took place on the lists. She'd expected it to be the main form but information exchange and requests for information were.
p. 115 middle of a long discussion about why she doesn't like the work lurker with its negative connotations. Compares it to a confernece
p. 103 discussion of medtext-l and its usefulness.
p. 101 about how prevalent metadiscussions were on the lists she covered.
This is the big thing that is missing now, I think. We don't really see that at all any more.
About the usefulness of requests for information as a way of finding grey literature (anthropologist quoted on page).
Only information exchange messages were cross posted.
Information exchanges considered the most valuable. She finds them odd, because lists discourage advertising and these would have been ads in the print world.
Interesting question, actually. How did one do a call for papers before the internet?
p. 92 typology of messages
- Information exchange
- Requests for information
- Technical or error messages
pp. 86-87 most users, also HSS, have many years computing experience
Discovers that part time faculty are plaing a considerable role in discussion lists
pp. 77-78 Interesting discussion of how to anonymise discussions. She is reporting full text, but hiding names and lists (no idea about full text search engines yet). When it came to flaming she describes the difference between print and online like this:
As I progressed with the data analysis I became increasingly concerned with reporting the results from the elctronic mail messages themselves. For example, an incident of "flaming," a potentially embarrassing incident for the person is "attacked" by others on the list, exists only temporarily in an electronic environment. The same incident becomes permanent if it is reported in print, therefore increasing the potential of harm for the individual.
pp. 75-76 Interestingly, she sees the asynchronous nature of email listservs to be a bug:
Another contributing problem is that people read their e-mail at different times, so a single message may be responded to over a period of days. This is an unfortunate characteristic of this form of computer mediated communication that can, as the above respondent observed, lead to confusion.
p. 56 (and 67[sic--it isn't there]) membership on mailing lists tends to be more stable in the spring semester than the fall
Interestingly, although most lists were from the sciences, the general science list was completely inactive: her guess is that the more specialised ones had taken over
One mailing list stood out because it had thousands of messages a month.
didn't deal with "journal" or "digest"-format mailing lists
pp. 65-66 disciplinary differences between HSS and STEM in terms of breadth of focus:
In the categories of the social sciences and the humanities the electronic mailing list topics tended to have a broad focus, such as history of literature. The interdisciplinary category category also had this broad thematic quality. The sciences and communications were the only two categories where the electronic mailing lists had more specific content, such as "Bees in Biology" or "Computer Mediated Communication."
p. 62 e-journals made up on.y 1.27% of the total number of lists.
p. 59 "academia tends to nurture the individual idiosyncrasies of its members"
p. 57 Research questions
1) What were the different types of lists? 2) what form of social relationship developed through the medium 3) were they a community
There is an interesting question raised here about the notion of knowing someone, either in the real-world or on-line. A public-subscription electronic mailing list thus differs in two significant ways from privately maintained ones. First, on a privately maintained electronic mailing list, preexisting social hierarchies (e.g. student-professor, manager-employee) and relationships (e.g. like or dislike) probably exist because people may already know the others. Second the publicly-subscription electronic mailing list has to find mechanisms for establishing trust that are significantly different from traditional forms of trust building.
Experiment by male psychologist to "experience female friendship"
Interesting how much she harps on the push and pull. I don't think we really see news and lists as belonging to the same scope any more.
Nice table discussing the different features of the different forms
p. 35 In the mid 1990s, SYSADMINs were encouraging people to avoid listservs because of these problems and use usenet instead.
pp. 31-32 problems with listserves relative to usenet groups
- more intense (sent messages)
- more user resources (in box full).
p. 28 history of LISTSERV
p. 26 USENET is where newsfeeds came from
p. 25 BITNET was the original location of LISTSERV technology
pp. 24-25 history of bitnet
p. 23 Description of the networks:
BITNET Internet Usenet
p. 21 call out to Bush 1945. McLuhan 1962, Naisbitt 1982 and Toffler 1980. Gibson Neuromancer.
What Peek sees as the main issues:
- Lists allow you to elide distance and get outside tower
- But open sharing invites others in
- should there be gatekeeping?
- calls them water-cooler discussions (as a potential weakness) compared to "important artifacts of the scholarly advancement of knowledge which need to be archived for the future"
- What are patterns and norms
- What scholarly/professional value is there in them?
Forester 1991 asserted that "over $300 billion a year is now spent worldwide on computers and communication hardware and software, but it's doubtful whether more than 300 researchers around the world are studying the impact of all this spending on the economy and society at large" (preface, p. iv)
Not true any more!
Overall much of the literature regarding electronic mailing lists has been either speculative or anecdotal in nature. In addition, as will be noted later, there has been a tencency to be overly optimistic in reporting the benefits of computer mediated communication. This lack of inquiry into the evolution of electronic mailing lists has left a crticial gap in the social history of academic culture.
p. 12 Heintz 1987 is not in bibliography. A search for the quote suggests it is the same as this: Heintz, Lisa. 1992. “Consequences of New Electronic Communications Technologies for Knowledge Transfer in Science: Policy Implications.” In Washington, DC Congress of the United States. Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) Contractor Report.
I can't find a full text though. Presumably because it is a contractor report, it isn't in either of the OTA archives:
p. 12 at the time she was writing, many respondents said they were the only members of their HSS departments with a computer and an internet connection.
pp. 9-10 what she saw as Being interesting about lists:
- POSSIBILITY OF HIDING AND LURKING;
- MINIMAL PERSONAL INFORMATION REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE
- Professor and UG could communicate as "virtual equals"
pp. 8-9 Important statement of potentially radical questions
Today;s scholars are no longer limited to print and conferences if they want to share their work with others. Electronic media liberate text from the technological limitations of paper and the costs of travel. By using computer mediated communication, scholars can communicate with their peers as they never could before. While this is an exciting time, the implications for scholarly communication, the evolition of the knowledge base, and learning behaviors and not yet known. It is important to questions how truly transforming or revliation the impact of computer mediarted communication was for scholarlship as it was beginning to rake root in the academic communitiy. The electronic mailing lists provided the first insight to how a worldwide communication forum could work... Will scholars merely view electronic mailing lists as a more speedy and cost-effective means to distribute information (such as calls for papers) that was traditionally disseminated in print? Or will electronic mailing lists and other forms of computer mediated communication ultimately transform scholarly behavior? Will the need to attend professional conferences cease because the same exchanges can be done via computer?
p. 8 Sees listservs as potentially bridiging this, but says that the implications are not yet known.
Journals were not real time interactive; conferences were, but they require financial resources.
pp. 6-7 Interesting history of Journal
Scholars have always had a need to communicate with other scholars. More than three hundred years ago, using the then new technology of the printing press, scholarly journals began. Journals were an exceptionally practical solution to the problem of the limited technolgogies of the time. ... For an individual before the seventeenth century the only practical form of communicating over significant distances was the personal letter. In comparison, scholarly journals allowed an individual to communicate more easily and exchange ideas with groups of others. These early journals were not seen as the final destination of a scholar's work; until this century, the monograph (book) was usually the final destination of a scholar's work. I find this distinction important because when a scholar today commits to be published in a journal, the product is usually considered finished and the scholar commits her or himself to the finality of the work. The journal article becomes the final piece offered to the public and to the fate of history.
The origin of many of our big questions in Schol Comm (peer review, etc.) can be found in lists:
The origins of these questions began with the early electronic mailing lists.
the electronic mailing lists I studied formed the basis of new ideas for the future of scholarly communication.
Harrison and Stephen argue that computer networking wil result in the "reconfiguration of the academic world time and time again." [their pp. 3-4]
We contend that our age will witness the reconfiguration of the academic world against and again, we see the computer as a central player in this revolution. But it is not the computer alone to which we now attribute these dramatic effects upon the character and substance of the academic world. Instead, the technology that will be responsible for this largely unforeseen revolution in the practices, the structure, and the products of scholarship is the computer network (pp. 3-4)
It is too soon to make any definitive statements about how computer networking will ultimately recast the shape and structure of academic life... computer networking threatens to disrupt existing disciplinary social structures based on print technology, restructure traditional student-teacher relationships, and destabilize longstanding economic, legal, and professional interdependencies in the dissemination of academic research (p. 7).
Originally wanted to study HSS and STEM but scientists didn't qulify. See chapter III
Sees the list serv as fitting in a three-part typology:
Email: 1:1 Listserv: 1: many "Conputer conferencing": many to many
p. 1 Epigraph
I think that we are in the nascent stages of this. I think that this could be an extraordinarily effective tool for scholarly interchange around the world, as well as personal interchange. We have not yet figured out how to make it work the best possible way. What we are seeing on these discussions lists of [sic][sic] whatever that are, is a kind of groping through the dark to figure out what works and what doesn't work. I just see it in those lights and so I don't get upset about some things that go on. It will all work out one way or another." (history, Professor)
The dissertation also considers the implications for higher education and the extent to which electronic mailing lists may change scholarly behaviors.
Respondents reported varying degrees of social relationships formed with other participants on electronic mailing lists. These differences in experiences and expectations appeared to be related to the degree to which an individual felt in some way isolated from others, preferred communication styles, professional rank, and time constraints.
Key findings of this dissertation revealed that each electronic mailing lists [sic] evolved differing forms of management practices, cultural norms, and types of content exchange.
Peek, Robin Patricia. 1997. “Early Use of Worldwide Electronic Mailing Lists by Social Science and Humanities Scholars in the United States.” Syracuse University. https://www.learntechlib.org/p/127008/.
- early internet
- heintz 1992
- social sciences
- disciplinary difference
- implications for future practice
- Harrison and Stephen 1996
- heintz 1987
- forester 1991
- gray literature
- Office of Technology Assessment
- peek 1997
- individual implications
- implications for future practice.
- history of journal
- Scholarly Communication
- computer history
- online communities
- membership patterns
- research questions