Chatroulette has swept the the nation. I say “swept” because, like many things on the Internet, the novelty and hype surrounding chatroulette is proving ephemeral. That’s not to say that chatroulette is going away any time soon. In fact, we should expect Internet culture to continue to produce new opportunities for the random interactions at the heart of the chatroulette experience. Fellow Sociology Lens commentator Nathan Jurgenson not unfairly described chatroulette as a “downright capricious and aleatory experience.”
Perhaps the most contentious and reported aspect of chatroulette is the regular frequency with which one encounters people engaged in sexually explicit activities, particularly men masturbating. Clearly somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Casey Neistat, producer of the video embedded here, divides chatroulette users into three categories: “boys,” “girls,” and “perverts.” While I don’t want to directly criticize this wonderfully made mini-documentary, I think it is good launching point for a discussion about the ways in which the norms and values of Internet culture may be transforming human sexuality. (more…)
By Paula Bowles
Day eight of the conference was once again marked by some excellent contributions. The first paper ‘Cultural Sociology and Other Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity in the Cultural Sciences’ by Diane Crane (University of Pennsylvania) suggests that for many scholars ‘disciplinary isolation is the norm.’ However, Crane proposes that by utilising what she describes as ‘free‐floating paradigms’ such barriers can be removed.
The second paper of the day by Christine Mallinson, (University of Maryland) entitled ‘Sociolinguistics and Sociology: Current Directions, Future Partnerships’ also takes sociology and interdisciplinarity as its main themes. Mallinson’s paper concludes with practical advice as to how best to achieve research partnerships.
Together with these exciting papers, Catherine Sanderson (Amherst College) offered advice in her publishing workshop: ‘The Joys and Sorrows of Writing an Undergraduate Textbook.’ There was also an opportunity to spend time in the Second Life cocktail bar with the Compass Team.
In recent months, proposals for “fat taxes” have gained growing popularity amongst certain academic and political circles. Proponents for such measures suggest that such policies would help lower America’s obesity rate and/or help fund a public healthcare plan. A series of articles from Slate.com invoke (in part) a seemingly Foucauldian lens in examining this trend.