Combining quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the implications of the Internet on humorous communication (eg political, technology and gender based humour) starting from the senders of humorous messages and ending in receiving procedures.
One of the most prominent manifestations of humorous communication nowadays is ‘cyberhumour’, or Internet-based humour. Humour has long been recognised as a key to understanding individuals and cultures; accompanying human society from its very beginnings and changing form, format and style according to social, cultural and technological processes.
Today, a large portion of our humorous daily communication is mediated by the Internet. Countless websites are devoted to humour, and an enormous traffic of emails containing humorous messages daily congests servers and PC terminals all over the world. This salient phenomenon appears to be highly significant to the understanding of both humour and the Internet.
The study investigated the implications of the Internet on various phases of humorous communication, starting from the senders of humorous messages and ending in receiving procedures. It was carried out in two phases.
- The ‘Wide Angle’ phase aimed to portray the ‘big picture’ of Internet-based humour. Questions addressed included: what is the definition of ‘cyberhumour’? What are the dominant topics of Internet-based humour? What are the social implications of the new humorous forms that are facilitated by digitised technology and Internet culture?
- The ‘Close Up’ phase concentrated on specific themes, such as political humour on the Internet during election campaigns, humour about computer-mediated communication technologies, and online humour about gender.
In both of these phases, the study combined quantitative and qualitative methods.
This work was partly supported by a grant from the John Fell OUP Research Fund at the University of Oxford.
Oxford Internet Institute
- Shifman, L. (2007) Humor in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Continuity and Change in Internet-Based Comic Texts. International Journal of Communication 1: 187-209.
- Shifman, L. and Maapil Varsano, H. (2007) The Clean, the Dirty and the Ugly: A Critical Analysis of Clean Humour Websites. First Monday 12 (2).
- Shifman, L., Coleman, S. and Ward, S. (2007) Only joking? Online Humour in the 2005 UK General Election. Information, Communication & Society 10: 465-487.