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Implosion, virtuality, and interaction in an internet discussion group

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The broad conceptual scope of ‘virtuality' reflects a notable implosive nature of contemporary culture that has been increasingly dependent on simulation and the blurring of the boundary between culture and technology. This research examines several issues that implosive structural properties of interaction on the Internet (e.g. the blurring of geographic, written/spoken, public/private and the real/the virtual boundaries) pose in relation to the unfolding of social interactions in an online forum, by focusing on the domains of ‘hostility', ‘self-presentation' and ‘support'. An examination of the way these structural variables lead to the emergence of certain types of behavioral features in cyberspace will shed light on the differences between virtual interaction and offline, face-to-face interaction. Virtuality on the Internet becomes interactive since it is engendered not just by Internet users' passive consumption of media images but also mostly by their very involvement in the interaction itself. Both ‘virtual interactivity' and ‘interactive virtuality' are involved in placing the discussion of ‘virtuality' in a broader contemporary cultural context as well as in uncovering the nature of ‘virtuality' specific to Internet culture.
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Keywords: hostility; implosion; interactive virtuality; self-presentation; support; virtual interactivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Chungbuk National University, Gae-Shin Dong, Heung-Duk Gu, Chungbuk Province, 361-763, South Korea

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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