My boss Brian Lackman recently gave a lecture to the RLO staff about his research into the experiences of asexual people across the globe. Performed as a survey, Brian used the internet to connect with groups of asexuals and ask about their personal experiences and stories as well as how they define themselves and their experiences regarding that.
While having worthwhile and meaningful results regarding the treatment of sexuality on university campuses and how to combat allosexual preference, the pertinence of this experience for this class is that Brian said he could not have completed his research without the internet. More importantly, he claimed that the expansion of conversation about asexuality wouldn’t have happened without internet services like Tumblr.
We have talked about the importance of community and how virtual communities can help create that across disparate places. Brian’s research reveals virtual communities in practice. People came together to hang out or play D&D but ended up forging a community in which to discuss sexuality as a non-deviant characteristic of themselves. By having connections across the world and having those connections be entirely creation driven the individuals in those conversation were able to bridge a gap that psychology had fostered for the greater part of a century.
Brian’s research is exciting and new, but is also performed via a new medium in a new and virtual “field”.