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On-line and off-line personae in the virtual communities.

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ON-LINE AND OFF-LINE PERSONAE IN THE VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES Roman Tol Introduction New Media TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Pg. 3 Virtual Community Pg. 3 On-line and Off-line Personae Pg. 4 Conclusion Pg. 5 Refrerences Pg. 7 INTRODUCTION Computer-mediated communication systems exhibit a fair amount of interpretative flexibility. That is, they can mean different things to different individuals or different groups, and their use continues to be interpreted and reinterpreted with the passing of time.1 It is well known that the Internet was originally conceived as a military project supervised by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, created during the Cold War as an information system capable of surviving a Soviet nuclear attack.2 Those same features of decentralization and flexibility that should make it militarily invulnerable contributed to giving us the Internet of today: an international, chaotic, dense bazaar inhabited by all kinds of people. This paper is intended to discuss the relationships in social worlds built by people on computer networks. Virtual communities has lately become a fashionable term which is used as a metaphor to indicate the articulated pattern of relationships, roles, norms, institutions, and languages developed on-line. This is not to say that the term virtual community is to be taken as a positive value in itself, nor that as an enthusiastic or optimistic view of computer networks. ...read more.


Even when the design of research does expect some data referring to the real world, it is never correct to accept these data without keeping in mind that obtaining information about someone's off-line life through on-line means of communication - although seemingly easy and convenient - is always a hazardous, uncertain procedure, not simply because of the risk of being deliberately deceived but also because in such cases the medium itself increases the lack of ethnographic context discussed above and it may also produce misunderstandings due to different communication codes. More social-oriented ethnographic studies on CMC have appropriately identified the existence of strategies of visibility of the actors which make up for the lack of traditional interpersonal cues and which indeed permit the development of a status differentiation9. Another example where the complexity and richness of on-line social worlds have often been underestimated is in the analysis of power and status relationships. Well-known laboratory experiments comparing face-to-face communication with electronic mail found that computer networks have a status equalization effect10; a few field studies confirmed that organizational electronic mail reduces social differences and increases communication across social boundaries11. CONCLUSION Finally, it could be useful to note that many of the most interesting virtual communities are also very proud of their exclusive culture. ...read more.


Qualitative Sociology, 10, 251-266. Metaworlds. Wired, 4.06,142-212. Mnookin, J.L. (1996). Virtual(ly) law: The emergence of law in LambdaMOO. Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication [On-line], 2 (1). Available: WWW URL http://www.usc.edu/dept/annenberg/vol2/issue1/lambda.html Reid, E. (1995). Virtual worlds: Culture and imagination. In S. Jones (Ed.) Cybersociety: Computer-mediated communication and community (pp. 164-183). Thousand Oaks: Sage. * Schwandt, T. (1994). Constructivist, interpretivist approaches to human inquiry. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 118-137). Thousand Oaks: Sage. * Spears, R. & Lea, M. (1992). Social influence and the influence of the social in computer-mediated communication. in M. Lea (Ed.) Contexts of computer-mediated communication (pp. 30-65). Hemel-Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf. * Sproull, L. & Kiesler, S. (1986). Reducing social context cues: Electronic mail in organizational communication. Management Science, 32, 11, 1492-1512 Society, 12, 2,107-117. * Walther, J. (1992). Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated interaction: A relational Perspective. Communication Research, 19, 1, 52-90. 1 Croft, Lea, & Giordano, 1994 2 Miller, 1996. 3 Jones, 1995b; McLaughlin et al. 1995 4 Geertz [1973] 5 Bruckman, 1992; Marvin, 1995]; Mnookin, 1996; Reid, 1995 6 Dubrovsky, Kiesler & Sethna, 1991; Sproull & Kiesler, 1986 7[Lea & Spears, 1995]; [Mantovani, 1994]; [Myers, 1987]; [Spears & Lea, 1992]; [Walther, 1992]) 8 see Spears and Lea, [1992], [ 1994]) 9 Bruckman, 1992 10 Dubrovsky, Kiesler & Sethna, 1991 11 Sproull & Kielser, 1986 12 Berger & Luckmann, 1966 On-line and Off-line Personae in the Virtual Community 1 2 ...read more.

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