Online world part of our daily life


Washington : If you think Facebook, Twitter and other web sites that foster online communication and interaction are merely lifeless echo chambers of self-promotion, think again.

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Caroline Haythornthwaite and Lori Kendall, professors at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, claim online interactions have positive outcomes for real-life, place-based communities.

“Earlier, the online world was considered a separate realm, and it was not viewed as a serious venue for work or business,” Haythornthwaite said.

“But with more people getting hooked to the internet, online communication has become the norm. Research on who people communicate with online shows a lot of local activity,” he pointed out.

There are a considerable number of people who go online to build new and non-local friendships. There are some who seek specific information and may eventually form relationships.

“While people can go to a site for information and personal support, they also form long-term relationships with others they’ve met online and communicated with,” Kendall said. “So, both things are happening, but I would say there’s probably more contact online with locals, and more searches for local information.”

“We’ve evolved from one-to-one or small group communication to whole community communication,” Haythornthwaite said.

“Socially, the internet provides a platform for just about anyone to contribute, and everyone benefits by having many different angles on a news event or topic. Economically, the ease of publishing web pages challenges traditional publishing, which we can see played out in the battle between the traditional news media and blogs, news aggregators and Twitter,” he added.

The findings will be published in the April issue of American Behavioural Scientist.