The major paper on the e-Neighbors study, my follow-up to the Netville project, is in the current issue of Information Communication & Society (iCS)
This study examines whether the Internet is increasingly a part of everyday neighborhood interactions, and in what specific contexts Internet use affords the formation of local social ties. Studies of Internet and community have found that information and communication technologies provide new opportunities for social interaction, but that they may also increase privatism by isolating people in their homes. This paper argues that while the Internet may encourage communication across great distances, it may also facilitate interactions near the home. Unlike traditional community networking studies, which focus on bridging the digital divide, this study focuses on bridging the divide between the electronic and parochial realms. Detailed, longitudinal social network surveys were completed with the residents of four contrasting neighborhoods over a period of three years. Three of the four neighborhoods were provided with a neighborhood email discussion list and a neighborhood website. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to model over time the number of strong and weak ties, emailed, met in-person, and talked to on the telephone. The neighborhood email lists were also analyzed for content. The results suggest that with experience using the Internet, the size of local social networks and email communication with local networks increases. The addition of a neighborhood email list further increases the number of weak neighborhood ties, but does not increase communication multiplexity. However, neighborhood effects reduce the influence of everyday Internet use, as well as the experimental intervention, in communities that lack the context to support local tie formation.
You can download a copy of the paper from the publications section of my website.