Probing Cyberspace: Resources in Social Psychology

While exploring the internet for cyberpsychology sites, I found some beneficial sources examining recent advances, but also helping to explain social psychology as a whole. To evaluate the various online books, informational sites, and organizations, I will use the Webby Awards Criteria, while blogs will be analyzed according to the IMSA Criteria. Links to these sites appear to right under linkroll. First is an online book called Cyberpsychology: Principles of Creating Virtual Presence by Dr. Leon James which contains excellent insight into the relationship between virtual reality and actuality, but the page has text spanning from side to side, top to bottom. It would benefit by breaking the block of daunting content with relevant pictures to create a more dynamic environment. Similarly, John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace has a bland main page that needs updating, but has applicable images infused in each chapter (like that to the left) and links to recent articles about cyberpsychology to supplement the older text.

Another great resource by Suler is his blog of the same title--The Psychology of Cyberspace. The greatest strength is the credibility of the blogger; Suler is a professor and leader in the emerging field. While many of the provided links prove very helpful, such as the archived posts, those connecting to his bio page and online book lead to nonexistent ends. Additionally, Suler along with Azy Barak has created a book in the form of a blog, Psychological Aspects of Cyberspace: Theory, Research, Applications. It is one of my personal favorites because of its innovation in making an online book interactive; each chapter has a separate link leading to the full PDF version, yet also allows for comments from outsiders. Although it presents each chapter in the same colors, this site would appear more professional if the homepage followed suit to create a streamlined look. Similarly dynamic, Pamela Rutledge's Media Psych Cafe is stimulating because of the opportunity to participate in the blogger's survey study and the information regarding upcoming external events in the field. Despite it seeming well-established, I wish there were more comments and dialogue surrounding each post. By contrast, Graham Jones Internet Psychologist has an abundance of conversation between the blogger and guests, but a bio directly on his page would enhance credibility. Like Jones' blog, The Media Zone creates discourse but in a different way: real-life anecdotes engage the reader and allow for a deeper understanding of the material because of relatable evidence. Like its greater site--Psychology Today Blogs--The Media Zone has too many distracting advertisements that detract from a sense of scholarship. Psychology Today Blogs is a great repository, though, and offers blogs written by reliable individuals.

Moving onto resource sites led me to Cyberpsychology, a web page with links to articles of relevant content, but a detrimentally homemade and unprofessional appearance. Conversely, the Internet Psychology Research Institution's main strength is its authoritative look with uniform colors on the homepage and every subsequent link. Although easily navigable and a seemingly promising resource, this site currently has many links leading to empty pages or "coming soon" signs. Social Psychology Network is like the previous in that its goal is to create accessible articles on recent studies, but it is much more established. The overall experience of a reader is positive because it is maneuverable, has links to partner sites for even more information, has an interactive forum, and is aesthetically pleasing. It is very difficult to critique, but the functionality could improve if search results appeared more quickly. Another website with a wide variety of resources--most notably blogs, news, and research--is called PsychCentral. It is legitimate because of its sixteen-year life, but is gimmicky due to some of the self-quizzes, especially those about relationships which seem suited to a girls' gossip magazine. By contrast, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication appears very scholarly and has archives dating back to 1995; unfortunately, the site began posting new articles onto a different "synergy site" linked from the homepage, but the old ones are of the highest quality and worth visiting.

As a supplement to many of these subject-specific resources, readers can explore social psychology basics with the Alphabetical Glossary of terms. Prentice Hall created this list but there is no link back to the publisher's homepage--it seems an academic publisher would want to take credit for the glossary. Although the site is very bare, just black and white, it serves its purpose as a reference; almost as bare is Social Psychology, a great resource for the basics of topics ranging from theories and methods to gender and sex. Unlike the aforementioned glossary, this site would benefit from some attention to color and organization. It has a place to submit input which affords readers a sense of influence. Another important resource is the DSM-IV-TR, which answers questions that a layperson and psychologist alike might have about the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. While it has a frequently asked questions portion, and discusses coding issues, it would benefit from greater detail like having an online version of the book for access in any location. Just as the DSM is a staple, staying informed about recent advances is equally essential; Psychology in the News has a collection of current articles sorted by publication date, with the newest at the top. Even though it is conveniently organized, the site could be improved with a search function that would sort through archived articles from the past. Psychology in the News is a faction of the American Psychological Association (see logo on right), a very prominent organization. APA's sleek site avoids clutter by having drop-down menus under each main heading, such as careers and publications. It caters to individuals with tabs on the side especially for advertisers, authors, and students, among others. To improve, each portion of the site should have the same colors so that the reader is not confused as to where he or she has been led--within the same site or to an outside source. A parallel organization, Association for Psychological Science, is more difficult to navigate because it does not have a site map and quick links like APA. While APS links to valuable resources like journal articles, the site would benefit by offering greater access to non-members. Lastly, the National Institute of Mental Health is a government site that offers access to publications in both English and Spanish, which appeals to a greater audience, but the entire site should be bilingual. These resources have given me a better understanding of social psychology as a field and made me realize the abundance of valuable resources available on the web.

1 comment:

George Thabit said...

Thank you for your posting of the 20 blogs and websites you find to be influential in your field. I felt that you aggregated an extremely relevant and interesting collection. I thought that you were adept in your ability to balance the task of explaining the focus of a particular site, while also offering its significance. Furthermore, I felt that the flow of your writing and the loose groupings of relevant sites made it easy to understand the relationship between sites. I am indeed sure that there is not a plethora of blog sites devoted to psychology and cyberspace, and I thought you were successful in your ability to deal with this by integrating broader ranging psychiatric resources. I found your list of blogs to be particularly outstanding. Each of them appears to conform well to the IMSA and Webby award formats. Also important, especially within your field of interest, each appear to have authoritative contributors in the field. I know that in my field of interest, sustainable real estate and technology, much opinion is offered, although credibility is often in question. I especially enjoyed your link to John Suler’s blog, The Psychology of Cyberspace. It featured a really interesting article on the experience he had as a participant in the online community Second Life. I will definitely be returning to his blog in the near future.

One critique I have was that while you provided a list of great resources, it would have been nice to have more of an explanation of what each site happened to offer as it pertains to your field of interest. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a nice resource, but pointing to what you specifically may have found regarding psychology and cyberspace would have been helpful for me to understand how it was helpful to you. Still, overall, I found your post to be extremely helpful for someone like me who is unfamiliar with the field, but would like to know more.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.