As mentioned in our class discussion and in the reading "Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet", Lisa Nakamura brings up a point identifying the internet to be somewhat tangible allowing us to "surf" through sites. This idea of surfing through an idealogical thing like the internet is somewhat amusing as although we identify the internet as "not real" we apply things that are "real" to it. Another example was the idea of gender or race.
reading response 10
As an endnote to our discussion on race online, I brought up a point about race on discussion boards concerning the Jeremiah Wright clips that populated youtube. This was a rare occasion in the blogosphere that allowed many to vent their anxieties about race relations in this country, and also defend and denounce his racially charged comments.
Our readings this week again discussed how one forms social and personal cyber identities, specifically in regard to minorities. Pervasive is the new notion of an uncentered multi faceted self. The popularity of concepts such as Miller's "'Transpostites'" and Nakamura's "identity tourism" reveal how the Internet transgresses boundaries as exclusive as race and gender. However, as these questions of identity and cyber performance arise, one must ask whether the binary oppositions are truly deconstructed, or just hidden a little deeper.
Laura Miller's article "Women and Children First" really made me question many of my assumptions about gender and gender roles. After reading "A Rape in Cyberspace," I had been strongly in favor of prosecuting the "rapist" as well as protecting women on cyberspace from virtual sexual assault. Furthermore, I had assumed that I was being thoughtful and considerate in their viewpoint. I was even a bit self satisfied for arguing it.
I think that the identity issue that is prevalent in the online social communities today, especially the trend of "identity tourism" described by Lisa Nakamura, is both progressive and damaging to the search for defining online identity within the community as a whole. The first and most obvious issue to deal with is the issue of gender. In programs like LambdaMOO, gender if finite and is not an optional choice is making an online identity.
In Steve Silberman's "We're Teen, We're Queer, and We've Got E-Mail", he discusses the ways in which the web fosters a community for gays. He makes very good points about the origins of the communities online and the ways in which they are helpful to members. I believe, though, that Silberman's points can be expanded to a whole slew of other groups of people.
this weeks readings had to deal with the idea of online identity. the quote that Nakamura gives in the beginning of her article " ON the internet nobody knows you're a dog" sums up the weeks readings in its entirety.
The article by Steve silberman illustrated the"happy go lucky" aspect of the internet. For John 0, a gay teen, it gave him an escape for the world around him to a place where people didn't judge him because he was different. I feel luike this is one of the reasons the internet was created- to give people a place to relate to each other regardless of their physical location.
In this weeks readings, the concept of race playing a large factor in online interaction was brought up. One would think that in a zone that is seemingly free of normal societal and bodily constraints, race would not be an issue. Yet the fantasy of cyberspace can only go so far, and although we may try and run from our physical properties by creating cat avatars or pretending to be something we're not, race will always follow.
The example that Nakamura gives about the dog on the internet: "on the internet, nobody knows that you're a dog; it is possible to "computer crossdress" I see as being an issue that is both positive and negative in regards to identity and the internet. In class on Wednesday we addressed if race can be excluded while on the internet or seen as an impossible issue to overcome on the internet. I do feel that in reality this is a very complicated issue to explore.
All the readings for this week dealt with some sort of minority group getting their voice heard on the Internet. Whether it was women in Laura Miller's article "Women and Children First: Gender and the Settling of the Electronic Frontier" or the gay community in Steve Silberman's "We're Teen, We're Queer, and We've Got E-mail" they all dealt with relatively the same ideas. However, I would like to focus on the other two articles dealing with race. To me race is a non-issue on the Internet.