Friday, February 27, 2004

In considering some of the questions posed by Seung-Hyun Lee on the differences between real and virtual social networks, I am struck by some of the more apparent similarities pointed out in Communities in Cyberspace. For instance, chapter 6 illustrated how tools from the real world can be adapted to virtual communities. Chapters 4 and 7, showed how people bring there own baggage to online interactions, which affects online identity and anonymity. I guess online communication and interaction is so ingrained in my daily life that I have to remember to what extent cyberspace was perceived as "unmarked territory." I do not find it surprising that, "we are nonetheless mapping this frontier with the same social categories of distinction that we have used to chart modern reality" (page 88). Yes, the differences are very important and real-- it is just that we have moved so far from the notion and surprise that "computing is a social activity" (Rheingold). While I was searching for computer advertisements for our earlier homework assignment, I read the Time Magazine, which declared the Computer the "Machine of the Year." The article was fun to read, especially the various prevailing declarations and ideas of what impact the computer would have on society. There was such a wide gambit; it was seen as dehumanizing as well as the "electric hearth" or focal point of the home. They were right to recognize its revolutionizing effects, but some enthusiasts did over step it. One chancellor predicted it would conquer illiteracy in the Third World and be a source of new life.

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