Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 2, Number 3 / March 1, 1995 / Page 21


Other Cultural Formations

by Nancy Kaplan

Other cultural formations: the organization of computing connections (the Internet, Xanadu, proprietary services like Prodigy and America Online and their ilk the world round), all of the current and future utilities on the information superhighway; "interactive" television and the like. Currently, electronic networks support point to point communications, as in electronic mail; many-to-many communications, as in public bulletin boards (also known as news groups, user groups, listservs and other organized ways for one person to reach many others who can in turn respond either to the author or to the group at large) and the increasingly popular and populous World Wide Web; real-time communications in writing (Internet Relay Chat, for example); and a kind of textual virtual reality called a MUD (multiuser dimension) or MOO (MUD object-oriented).

Electronic networks do for the written record what the telephone and satellite links have done for voice and face-to-face interactions: eradicate distance and time lapse between communicators. Unlike telephone communications or teleconferencing, however, these networked forms generally produce a record that lasts longer than the encounter. That record or text is generally unlike most other written records, except perhaps transcripts of congressional hearings or court proceedings. The textual forms such organizations of discourse produce are in a real sense author-less. As Tuman puts it, "there are many individual writers, players of the game, but no authors, no one who has written the interconnected set of writings that now constitute the text" (65) Context.

These cultural formations are in their infancies now, their trajectories plotted out by those with the resources to create and manage the infrastructures: hardware, software, enforceable rules, unwritten codes of conduct.

Here are some other key terms I use in this argument:

E-Literacies and Elite-racies
Politexts and Politics

And in case you're wondering what you've stumbled into, here's a brief statement of the argument.

This page is part of the article, "E-literacies: Politexts, Hypertexts and Other Cultural Formations in the Late Age of Print."

This Issue / Index / CMC Studies Center / Contact Us