How would you go about examining chat?

What most characterizes chat is it's immediacy, and it's anonymity. There's no reason to fear being identified. You might as well, for instance, use your own name in a chat room, because everyone will assume that it's a pseudonym anyway. I have no idea how often people return to chat rooms, or whether when they do so they present themselves as the same person they were the previous time. I don't know whether seek out the same people they chatted with before, or prefer to always establish contact with new people. My guess is that people in chat are continually seeking out the new. If they wanted ongoing contact, to my mind it would be easier to simply exchange e-mail addresses and write directly person to person.

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