Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Yeah, I thought the same thing Kirstin. If my son had cancer, I don't think I'd log in to a bulletin board and spill it all to a bunch of strangers. Some of the topics in the teen section looked especially personal – things that the teen may not be ready or wanting to share, especially to an anonymous online audience. But, I agree with Rheingold that these groups are an aid -- not a substitute – for regular life. For those like Blair, however, this wasn't so clear and his behavior didn't fit with those who used WELL as a tool to anonymously connect to information and users. Bringing the online world into the real world may break an unspoken etiquette. So... doesn't this make online friendship/dating services a little worrisome? For instance, in chapter one of Virtual Community, he describes a guy whom he saw was much different than his antagonistic online persona. In creating our virtual selves, do we assume what we wish -- or think -- we are? Can online services somehow address intangible qualities that make someone attractive? For every one that finds love/friendship online, there may be another who skimmed over their soul mate's online profile because they didn't like their favorite color or height or something. Will computers ever closely approximate what constitutes a human relationship? Or, as the LucasFilm article points out, is focusing on content (rather than the medium) a wrong-headed because of its static, dictating approach? They seemed to focus on the arena users interacted in, allowing users as much freedom as possible to build tools to enrich these interactions.

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