Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Well, it is WELL: language and human interest in a virtual community

Obododimma Oha

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2006.19.15

Abstract

This paper discusses the pursuit of humanistic interests by Netizens, with particular reference to discourse in chat groups located in Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL), a virtual community founded by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant in 1985. It explores how language becomes a vital tool in building, reinventing, and promoting sense of community and creative freedom. It also examines the ways that conflicts are prevented and/or managed in the cyber conversations, and the struggles to live electronically with Netiquette. The quest to cater for human interests through the use of language in cyber conversations implies that there is a limit to freedom exercised by Netizens. Virtual communities like the WELL, configured as "a word palace", present useful data on patterns of behaviour that the New Information and Communication Technologies, especially the Internet, have generated, and which contemporary discourse scholarship cannot afford to overlook. A "word palace" poses a great challenge to human identity and mediations of such identities, relationships, and goals; it simulates and communicates power and power struggles, even when it appears to either minimize or transform such power to cooperation. Thus the WELL Netizen builds power through discourse and language that cater for "WELLbeing".

Keywords

Chats; Comunidades virtuales; Cortesía; Internet; Códigos lingüísticos; Análisis de la conversación



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2006.19.15

Copyright (c) 2006 Obododimma Oha

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