Arosio [Abstract]

Personal documents on the Internet: what’s new and what’s old   [Full text]

Laura Arosio [1]

Abstract: In this article some of the main methodological issues that arise in doing research using the Internet are presented. We firstly distinguish two main methodological areas: sociology with Internet and sociology on Internet. This work is mainly devoted to the sociology on Internet. We suggest that research on Internet has features which are highly continuative with documentary analysis, a type of enquiry which is already part of the tool box of social researchers. Some on line documents in particular may rightfully be considered as personal documents in traditional sense: e.g. blogs, e-mails, personal sites, forums, albums on line. A possible matching between traditional personal documents and web-mediated personal documents is proposed. It is certainly true that personal documents on line reveal specific features. In particular, since they are published on the web, “personal” documents are permeated with a “public” dimension which makes their significance distinctive. Specific stratagems are also necessary in the collection, contextualisation and analysis stages. In this paper some of the theoretic, ethic and technical issues that arise from the use of web mediated personal documents are discussed. This article contains no solutions, but rather a list, a sort of reminder, of the open questions. Nor is it possible to provide answers to many of the questions submitted: due to their complexity and relative newness, the scientific community has not yet given clear and shared answers to these questions.

Keywords: Documentary analysis; personal documents; social research using the Internet; web-mediated personal documents; blogs, forums, albums on line.

[1] University of Milano Bicocca – Italy,