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Electropolis: Communication and Community On
Internet Relay Chat

Elizabeth M. Reid

"Electropolis," an adaptation of Elizabeth Reid's undergraduate honors thesis, written at the University of Melbourne (Australia) in 1991, has functioned as an influential and groundbreaking work on the norms and implications of Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Acknowledging the limitations of the communication possibilities that IRC offers, Reid demonstrates that IRC still serves to develop community and sustained connection among users and that IRC users find innovative ways to create new conventions and, ultimately, a new culture. Reid demonstrates how IRC "deconstructs social boundaries"; based on that, she characterizes IRC as a postmodern communication form, challenging the traditional methods of history and sociology. The strength of "Electropolis" lies in its dual mission -- Reid not only describes and analyzes IRC effectively (notable especially in 1991, when IRC was less widespread and more of a cult phenomenon) but steps back to comment on the implications of IRC to conventional scholarship.



hduggan said:

One thing about the power divide is that it is created from both sides at once--powerfulness is created by powerlessness is created by powerfulness. You can tear down the divide from either side by simply failing to assume the role. Not fighting it against, but seeing your way around it. Seeing your own power in the larger scheme of things. Seeing this place as a piece of your context, rather then the other way round.

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