How men are · 5. July 2010, 21:15

This is probably only of interest to me and James, but hey.

One thing I forgot to say in the last post – where are the academics? The outside commentators? The sociologists and the ethnographers? How come there’s no other research on, say, Grindr? Other technology and social topics are covered in general conferences, books, magazines and Internet commentary. The gay press doesn’t feel like the kind of place that will cover these topics, unfortunately (and this post was premeditated by a slightly disappointing event last week called Homo Computers that played up the stereotype that gays are more interested in other things than technology and science).

Unfortunately you need both motive and means to spend academic time on research such as this, and lack of funding for such controversial subjects as gay social networks, combined with apathetic private companies and (stereotypically) technophobic academics mean that there’s little research. Facebook and Twitter don’t know how lucky they are to have people like danah boyd digging into why and how people are using such things, and importantly making this information accessible and understandable to wider audiences. Most academic research on gay online networks (that isn’t concerned with public health) falls somewhere between communication theory and queer studies, and pretty much remains in academic publications and conferences – which I don’t have access to.

This is what I’ve found so far:
Ben Light at the University of Salford has published a few papers on Gaydar (1, 2), as has his colleague, David Kreps (1) – also remixed into a presentation on Chat Roulette. There was a Big Gaydar Workshop last month, but I can’t find anything more about it, what research was presented, and any outcomes. Co-organiser Dr Sharif Mowlabocus has also written a few papers on Gaydar. There’s a book too: LGBT Identity and Online New Media.

There’s a bit more research generally about online dating, but I can’t see much long-term or deep ethnography, and little looking at how it has changed in the last few years, with pervasive Internet access and more multimedia experiences available.

One other avenue of comment is exploring these issues through culture. I’ve found a few productions covering these subjects – The Gaydar Diaries, Sex Addict and Blowing Whistles.

More mainstream is an interview with Henry Badenhorst, one of the founders of Gaydar.

This was just a quick online trawl – what have I missed?


Ben Light was one of the speakers at TEDxManchester last year – his segment’s online at

Imran Ali    5.07.10    #

Thanks for that – it’s really interesting.

Chris    5.07.10    #