The hypothesis of this thesis is that social networking website design can exert a mediating influence upon the culture of a site by supporting certain behaviors more than others; this influence can be analyzed in an active and structured way that takes into account the culture of the community it addresses. Evidence will be offered by case study, demonstration of specific mediations, and analysis. This hypothesis will be tested with specific reference to the gay male community. The scope of this paper will be limited to the analysis of gay-oriented social networking websites as new media, in general and through specific examples. I will present frameworks for categorizing and analyzing these websites that consider the mediating influences associated with site design. In the last chapter, I will propose community-enhancing design. The method of analysis first takes into account the nature of new media. It then discusses the concepts of cultural mediums and mediators in terms of site-wide typology and specific forms of mediation. It then identifies common elements of gay social networking sites and their associated usage as well as the design decisions that are related to them. Next user goals and site goals are correlated to these design decisions. Virtual personas and real communities are discusses as a concept. Using the proposed methodology, gay.com and other sites are analyzed and compared. Conclusions are drawn from the results of this analysis and evidence presented. The impact of social networking websites upon sexual activity is discussed. Finally, conclusions are summarized and recommendations are cited related to what these sites could be.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Gay community--Computer network resources; Online social networks; Gay men--Identity

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Information Sciences and Technologies (GCCIS)


Lawley, Elizabeth


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: HQ76.965.O54 C56 2010


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