Conducting Electronic Research

Chat Rooms

Chat rooms are live discussion forums that allow instant real-time communications between individuals and a printable record of that communication. The oldest form of this is the text only IRC's, or Internet Relay Chats. Newer forms include 2D visual "rooms" incorporating graphic representations, or avatars, of the users-these may be electronically manipulated within the graphic interface-and full-blown interactive 3D "rooms" permitting the users an even greater measure of graphic control over that same environment.

You will find Chat rooms devoted to wide variety of subjects, ranging from the mundane to the academic, from the inane to the erotic. People participating in them are not required to reveal their identities, so almost anything goes. As a result, you may be surprised at the kind of information you find. Remember the old adage not to judge a book by its cover. It may not be at all what you were looking for, no matter what the Chat room's title.

Chat rooms can be enormously useful when researching current events or cultural happenings. Major news organizations, such as CNN, use Chat room forums to interview public figures, industry leaders and celebrities. These sessions are often advertised and hundreds or even thousands of online viewers tune in regularly. Likewise, major search engines, like Lycos and Yahoo, do the same and may even provide transcripts of past sessions.

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