Boundaries and information: Sidestepping restrictions through Internet conversations

Erica Johnson, Beth Kolko, Odina Salikhbaeva


Central Asian chat sites can transcend geographic boundaries and repression of information to provide access to information from around the globe. Chat and forums users gain information that is domestically censored or restricted in traditional media and share it with offline domestic communities. Because youth is the dominant demographic participating in chat and forum sites, these online exchanges and communities are likely to have important longer-term implications for information seeking and expectations of new and traditional media. We use cross-country survey data, interview data, and participant observation of online chat and forum sites to explore the exchange of information, emergence of opinions, global connections, and offline implications for communities within the region. This study examines how information and communication technologies take root in a technology-emergent society like Central Asia and has important implications for understanding attitudes toward and practices of adopting technology in other developing regions around the world.


chat; forum; online discussion; computer-mediated communication; Central Asia; authoritarian regime

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