Blog 6: Pal around the internet

Blog 6: Pal around the internet

In many ways our class discussion on Monday fits nicely into Johnny Ryan’s phase 2 chapters, especially chapter 6 on internet communities. Not to be exaggerated, but the history of the internet has left a legacy of free spirit and hacking. As Ryan points out, the “phone phreaks” community that grow out of the phone network has bled into the early internet community as well.

The internet encourages congregation of like-minded individuals to form communities that are based around interest rather than geographical location. I think many of us can testify to that by reflecting on how we have used the internet to locate those who share similar hobbies, skills sets or practices, values, and personal ideologies. Think social networks like Facebook and Myspace, and dating or match-making sites like Tinder and Grindr. Of course. there are also other formats that these communities exit within to allow for the exchange of information, ideas, and mere interactions.

This makes me question Ryan’s notion of virtual intimacy. I am curious to find out what we think as constituting intimacy or closeness online. These days, we are constantly negotiating the ethics and acceptable practices for interacting with others online. While this notion may be more easily conceived in terms personal relationships–such as family or partners or friends–it gets complicated when we are dealing with others on a professional level (like our superiors, teachers, or potential employers).

To that end, I ask the following questions for our class discussion:

  • How do we measure/understand virtual intimacy? Are there cultural variables that we need to take into considerations?
  • How has online interpersonal interactions affected the way we live, learn, play, and work today?

Ryan, J. (2010). A history of the internet and the digital future. London, UK: Reaktion Books. [Phase 2: 5, 6, & 7]


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