Relationships and the Internet

For those in UK, don’t miss this weeks’ OII forum on Relationships and the Internet, that will take place this Friday, 4 December at 10am, followed by the public panel at 4pm. The forum will gather researchers in the fields of social networking, online dating, practitioners from a growing and international relationship industry and policy-makers concerned with consumer protection and media literacy in a digital age. Taken from the background to the forum:

Research on the role of the Internet in meeting new people is an increasingly vital area of inquiry, and is illustrated by a burgeoning literature on such topics as online dating. However, the Internet may shape many other aspects of relationships beyond introducing individuals, such as in undermining or maintaining ongoing relationships, from courtship to marriage.

This forum will look at the state of the art of academic research on relationships and the Internet and how this research informs research on the social aspects of the Internet in general, such as issues of trust and identity. Cross-national and cross-cultural aspects will be addressed in ways that can illuminate general cross-cultural trends and responses shaping use of the Internet in building and maintaining relationships. The forum will draw out the connections between this research and such emerging issues of policy and practice as involved in efforts to foster a digital economy in Europe.

More about the speakers and the panel here.


  1. I very much hope that you may be able to recover some extracts from the Skype chats you’ve been having over the past week while you’ve been unwell. I know this may seem over academic and detached, even insensitive, to draw attention to them, these snatches of dialogue (text and voice) represent a significant even powerful example of the difference between social interaction in cyberspace and the kind of direct human-to-human interaction that occurs when humans are in physical communal proximity. Skype, Twitter and Facebook and similar social net phenomena may enable awe-inspiring global human interaction but they can prove profoundly flawed as a means to do what social networks are supposed to do when it comes to alleviating illness, bereavement, loneliness, isolation, or anomie. I am reminded yet again of the millions of people who cannot access the world wide web through lack of infrastructure or political censorship, and indeed who may not even have access to a phone nor indeed ever used one, but aside from statistics on lack of access to the web, even those with robust experience of social web technologies may have experiences that force them to see the difference between virtual and real human contact. There’s plenty of writing on this, the classic being Putnam’as Bowling Alone. See also:
    I was always aware of issues but your experience over the last few days and the debate I attended at a coffee shop in the small township of Newstead in Victoria, Australia hardly two weeks ago brought his home to me much more strongly.

  2. Danica says:

    I will address issue of information rich and poor societies in the future post regarding techno-notworking.
    As a friend from Italy said, with Internet you are never alone. I’m still contemplating these words as I’ve changed bicycle for the computer keyboard in high school.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the links.

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