Welcome to the electronic version of The Virtual Campfire. Click "Table of Contents" to start from the beginning.
At the end of each section is a link to the next. Alternately, you may select a specific chapter from this menu or download the PDF (below).
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Wesleyan University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Anthropology
Based on five years of participant-observation on the social networking sites MySpace, Facebook, and Tribe.net, The Virtual Campfire explores the increasingly blurred boundaries between human and machine, public and private, voyeurism and exhibitionism, the history of media and our digitized future. Woven throughout are the stories and experiences of those who engage with these sites regularly and ritualistically, the generation of "digital natives" whose tales attest to the often strange and uncomfortable ways online social networking sites have come to be embedded in the everyday lives of American youth.
© Jenny Ryan, May 2008