Elizabeth Reid Steere


Communication and Community on Internet Relay Chat

Elizabeth Reid
University of Melbourne, 1991

This paper discusses interaction on 'Internet Relay Chat', the synchronous computer-mediated communication system available on that network. It is shown that the structure of IRC forces users to deconstruct many of the cultural tools that form the basis of more conventional systems of interaction. Within this environment new methods of creating shared systems of significance, and methods of enforcing that new hegemony, have developed. IRC's internal system of cultural deconstruction and regeneration is mirrored in its implications for the external system of academic discourse. It is proposed that the forms of interaction seen on IRC problematize and necessitate the reconstruction of some of the methods of analysis that have been applied to computer-mediated communication. IRC - and computer-mediated communication in general - offer challenges to disciplines such as linguistics, sociology and history that demand a reconstruction of those discourses.