This assignment (which augments the on-line discussion assignment required of all class members) is designed to allow students with a particular interest in the developing information technologies to do some study of the effect of those technologies on images of the self and norms of interaction within computer mediated communication contexts. Mark Peace has written an interesting thesis examining the construction of one's identity on the web. Judith Donath's article on deception treats a similar topic in the presentation of self. There is a hard copy of both on reserve in the Library; an electronic version can be downloaded from WebCT.
If you have some facility or interest in this emerging communication technology, you will find that there is interesting literature on this topic, beyond Peace's, or Donath's and interesting experiences on the Internet that call into question our common, everyday definitions of the "self."
The project has four phases:
1) Read either Peace's thesis or Donath's essay and paraphrase the argument he makes about the effects of the medium on the presentation of self (2 pages)
2) Join at least two discussion groups of your choosing on the Internet and interact with others on those bulletin boards. (Make sure the groups are active enough that you can experience the ambiance of the groups; PLEASE AVOID ADULT PORN BBS –LOOK FOR FOLKS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN POLITICAL ISSUES, MUSIC, LITERATURE, HOBBIES, ETC.)
3) Keep a record of your interactions, feelings about yourself and others, noting, in particular, "turning points" or specific moments when you become aware of the impact of the interaction on your "self."
4) Using your data, respond to Peace's or Donath's argument--agree or disagree with it, or modify it. Struggle with Peace's or Donath's ideas based on your experience. Provide ample support for your assertions from the data you have collected. (4-5 pages of focused, thoughtful, concise, well-grounded writing should comprise your response.)