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The Social Net

Scientists hope to download some insight into online interactions

By
1:14pm, April 30, 2002

Ten years ago, computer aficionados had the Internet pretty much to themselves. Today, their electronic playground has become a grand, weird, unpredictable social experiment. About half of U.S. households now have Internet access, although only 5 percent were connected in 1995. Europe and many other parts of the world also contain mushrooming numbers of Net users.

There's a complementary growth industry in studies of how this wildly successful technology affects social life. Behavioral scientists are grappling with a seismic

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