Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Hi there--Here are some cybercommunity thoughts for you all.

In the 'identity and deception' chapter, Donath writes that cyberfolk are uncomfortable with other users remaining anonymous. I find this amusing and somewhat refreshing. Amusing because nobody really knows who anybody else on-line is anyway. Refreshing because, in the electronic and plastic world we live in, it is so necessarily human to ascribe a name to something. I was actually puzzled by a lot of the cybercommunity behavior. This spiffy web log is the first sort of organized on-line place I've contributed to and I think my lack of experience with on-line communities leaves me a little in the dark. For instance, sniffing out trolls or being a troll--why bother?

The web is praised by some as a place where people will not be judged by their physical characteristics. The notion that our culture or our world needs such a place reveals a large defect in how we interact with each other. Instead of turning to the web for partiality, what about promoting tolerant behavior or presenting people with more opportunities? Does an anonymous web sustain prejudices by giving people an interactive space where they can avoid confronting them? People who interact on the web still have prejudices (everybody does), but when they're on-line they can, in many instances, pretend not to have them.

How do cybercommunities figure into the digital divide debate? Are those off-line missing out on a vital means of communication or is this merely luxurious entertainment? It seems as though many group members receive practical and emotional benefit from their web-friends. Maybe injustice occurs when off-line people who do not have other opportunities for traditional interactions (the homebound, disabled, introverts) are denied web interaction. Yet this would be a hard line to draw.

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