Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers
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Whether people want to play games and download music, engage in social networking and professional collaboration, or view pornography and incite terror, the Internet provides myriad opportunities for people who share common interests to find each other. The contributors to this book argue that these self-selected online groups are best understood as tribes, with many of the same ramifications, both positive and negative, that tribalism has in the non-cyber world.
In Electronic Tribes, the authors of sixteen competitively selected essays provide an up-to-the-minute look at the social uses and occasional abuses of online communication in the new media era. They explore many current Internet subcultures, including MySpace.com, craftster.org, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, music downloading, white supremacist and other counterculture groups, and Nigerian e-mail scams. Their research raises compelling questions and some remarkable answers about the real-life social consequences of participating in electronic tribes. Collectively, the contributors to this book capture a profound shift in the way people connect, as communities formed by geographical proximity are giving way to communities—both online and offline—formed around ideas.
significant, but technology alone is not enough to make a difference. Each and every one of us must strive to become more aware, and more loving.11 This manifesto is rooted in the idea of a “tribe” as a utopian meme, tribe as a symbol and index of what Donna Haraway calls the “personal and collective yearning for barely possible worlds.” 12 The authors’ call for a renegotiation of the social order so that it reflects their values and enables a formation of a meaningful community exemplifies
based on three factors: (1) the VISTAnet tribe is geographically dispersed; (2) the identity talk of the VISTAnet tribe serves to motivate rather than to isolate; and (3) the “us versus them” talk positions poverty rather than specifi c groups or people as the enemy. I will address the last two factors in the next section. Here I wish to touch briefly on the geographic dispersion of the tribe. While some AmeriCorps*VISTA members may serve in the communities in which they already live, others
Social Order in a Thai Village,” Journal of Anthropological Research 32 (Spring 1976): 44–57. 17. Michael L. Hecht, Mary Jane Collier, and Sidney A. Ribeau, African American Communication (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1993). 18. Maryann S. Schall, “A Communication Rules Approach to Organizational Culture,” Administrative Science Quarterly 28 (December 1983): 557–581. 19. Ibid. 20. Henri Tajfel, Human Categories and Social Groups (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). 21. Isaiah Berlin,
for Phillips. Suffering from health problems, he refers to the process in this same thoughtful post to the Clinton list: I have activated myself many times since, though not lately. The threat of being “monitored,” raised originally by Mr. Waldman and repeated more recently by Mr. Bell have even me intimidated. Having gone through the McCarthy era, during which time I have been monitored, and having been bushwhacked by reverse racists, I decided to give my angina a break and stay away.30 During
Review Service 026 ‘CLINTON,’ ed. Raleigh C. Muns, October 8, 1993, http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/proddir/rev026.htm. 25. Ibid. 26. Ibid. 27. Dowlin, “Electronic Discussion Groups,” p. 20. 28. Ibid. 29. Phillips’s e-mail messages can be found in Dowlin’s thesis, and I have included full text here with commentary. QC-L no longer archives messages, although Dowlin cites QC-L archives, January 1994, as her source. 30. Phillips’s e-mail messages can be found in Dowlin’s thesis, and I have included full