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Baym suggests that, "Rather than focusing on building predictive models of CMC [Computer Mediated Communication], more naturalistic, ethnographic, and microanalytic research should be done to refine our understanding of both influences and outcomes." (Baym, 1996, 161)Ethnography is defined by Marshall as "the acts of both observing directly the behaviour of a social group and producing a written description thereof." (Marshall, 1994, 158) In ethnography the "description of cultures becomes the primary goal...
the search for universal laws is downplayed in favour of detailed accounts of the concrete experience of life within a particular culture and the beliefs and social rules that are used as resources within it." (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995, 10)Researchers who have used ethnographic methods in cyberspace have been confronted with several problems that are different from the ones they are likely to encounter in research off-line.
Most of the existing social scientific research of the online world has been ethnographic.
Given the prevalence of ethnographic methodology in the study of social phenomenon in text based virtual environments, it is surprising that it's use in cyberspace has yet to be analysed in any great detail.
An important question faced by researchers of online chat rooms is whether to depend solely upon online interviews and observations in the gathering of data.
In these studies, researchers have found that text based virtual environments (chat rooms, IRC chat channels, and MUDs) are places where users can experiment with identity and gender (re)construction (Reid 1991, 1994; Turkle 1995), form new friendships (Baym, 1996), and join together with other users in the building of virtual communities (Rheingold 1991, 1995; Lichty 1994).Following this, I will discuss several of the problems encountered by researchers of cyberspace.These include the unavailability of data on the parameters of the population and the necessary dependence upon online interviews and questionnaires rather than face to face interviews.The first form is computer mediated interactive masturbation in real time.In this form of cybersex, users type instructions and descriptions of what they are "doing" to each other and to themselves while masturbating.
In the case of those who meet in online chat rooms, these sexual relationships are most often acted out online in the form of cybersex chat.