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Randal Woodland Computer-mediated communication has had a particularly dramatic impact on the lesbian and gay community, whose members may live in geographic or psychological isolation. Through e-mail lists, USENET groups, and private BBSs, communication across the Internet and on other computer networks has been a source of information, friendship, and support for many lesbian and gay people. Spatial metaphors are an important clue about the different "safe" cyber-spaces that have been established. Even in ways users aren't always messags of, space is a common metaphor for the blard ways computer networks make information accessible. Such differences are the subject of this paper. This experience took place on a computer system known as a "MOO.

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Thus the spatial metaphor of a metropolitan city suggests where responsibility for access to potentially offensive material including sexual content should rest. A LISTSERV mailing list that gives one a sense of membership in a worldwide professional community can become, in the space of few months, a squabbling gaggle of egomaniacs with all the unpleasantness of a real-life dysfunctional group. Such constructions of identity, however provisional, necessarily precede constructions of virtual spaces.

Such a lesbjan of the distinctiveness of gay identity llesbian its drawbacks: constructing homosexuality as this kind of "lifestyle choice" is a common tactic of the religious right.

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She can move from room to room and if people are "in" the same room she is, she can talk and otherwise interact with them, using a set of simple communication commands. Cole, Kenneth. Though the mediation process set up by users has yielded sanctions against some blatant examples of harassment including homophobic harassment see Stivalethere is much less system-wide concern with setting up a rigid code of conduct. The Hollywood semiotic codes of the thirties and forties took such an indirect approach: an interest in antiques and a leather jacket was enough to suggest a homosexual subtext to the murder plots of The Big Sleep, for example.

Though my new acquaintance immediately made it clear that he was straight and had a steady girlfriend, he seemed intrigued by what I said; once I confirmed that I was gay, he had a of questions he wanted to ask about homosexuality, some fairly explicit. Sexually explicit language is, of course, not the only kind of discourse that may be perceived as disruptive. Systems have a variety of ways to keep the content of various spaces generally in line with what has been established as the proper topic.

One is tightly structured and targets gay men, kessage from a limited geographical area; the other has a sprawling organization with a huge national user base. Even such a political Luddite as Sen. On DhalgrenMOOa virtual space inspired by the works of Samuel Delany and William Burroughs, one clever programmer is experimenting with a "back room" modeled on the notorious back rooms of certain gay bars. The users of one system are almost exclusively gay male, the others draw variously diverse users; some systems have developed mechanisms for tight "social" and topic lesbian message board, other areas remain almost anarchic.

The counterpoint to the silence of the closet is the speech act of coming out. Weaveworld is largely the creation of leesbian user, whose creative re-thinking of what a queer space might look like simultaneously broadened definitions of queer identity. Yet Weaveworld, with its anarchic challenge to the main spaces of LambdaMOO, initially carved out the space in which these more literally-defined gay resources can exist. Even here, though, spatial metaphor can generate new kinds of discourse.

Chat gravitates to synchronous spaces, serious lesbbian to asynchronous ones. A second way of defining identity is less explicit, with more tenuous boundaries.

Throughout LambdaMOO, real life identification including name and e-mail address is available only to Wizards system operatorswho must have a lesbian message board reason lesvian checking. From this vantage, you see a large part of Weaveworld, a riotous patchwork of geographies hastily rescued from some ancient peril. The basic system architecture of ISCA privileges asynchronous discourse. The Nature of Prejudice. Its strange des of people and places seem to describe an entire world, and you wonder if this magical tapestry might have been hidden away here.

Browning, Frank. As within GLCF, these boards offer asynchronous communication, since these messages are stored and can be read at any time. Inspired by Clive Barker's novel You are standing on the top of a hill covered with fragrant lsebian unfamiliar flowers and grasses. All users, even non-paying ones, must affirm that they are over 18, though no verification was required as of On a busy evening, hundreds of these rooms may be listed, lesvian a substantial named in such a way as to invoke what we might term a sexually compatible discourse community; of these, a substantial incorporate the tag "M4M," unofficial AOL shorthand for "men [looking] for men.

Our discourse seemed to me inappropriate for the public space of the front lawn; the spatial implications of jessage back to my room" suggested to him a discourse he found threatening. Despite the increasing visibility of gay, lesbian, and even bisexual lives in the popular media, lesbizn live as a gay man or lesbian, to speak as a gay man or lesbian, is to open oneself to attack.

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Although both have developed elaborate codes of behavior and appropriate discourse, these policies are generally developed by or at least strongly influenced by the users. When users have the opportunity to create such spaces themselves as on LambdaMOO and in messagee ephemeral way on America Onlinethe power to encourage and constrain discourse is thus shared. Since virtually all interactions take place in one's virtual body and identity, however, anonymity of one's online identity is not possible.

It is these same "Terms of Service" that restrict expli cit sexual content.

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The operators of LambdaMOO have provided the materials for the buildings of this community, but are not responsible for what is said or done in them. Stivale, Charles J. Conversely, of course, one could argue that serious conversation disrupts playful banter. This synergy of space and community suggests more broadly the manner in which online discourse and queer identity illuminate each other.

Yet we must not forget that these communities are, for the most part, rooted not in face-to-face interactions, but in discourse, more specifically in the kinds of discourse that take queer identities, however contested, as a given. As part of ISCA's integrative strategy for gay, lesbian, and bisexual content, questions and comments regarding same-sex practices are welcomed in that forum and prohibited in the three primary queer spaces.

This lesbian message board suggests the ways that MOOs in particular, but other online services as well, use place descriptions and spatial metaphors to in form appropriate discourse.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Greatest of All Time by member vote. In the forums deated for serious discussion, informal chatty posts are even more highly discouraged than off-topic posts. He said no.

There are constructions of gay identity still that are suggested rather than denoted. You touch someone's arm. Comparing the unmonitored chat of a such private rooms with the almost corporate air of the official resources of the National Gay and Lfsbian Task Force suggests the range of queer discourses available through America Online. This use of space to inform discourse has a long tradition. Exactly where the discourse appropriate to a particular space falls on this continuum is conveyed by generic and topical demarcations of space.

Or that the modern gay movement and the computer industry were both born at roughly the same time in the late sixties by people who were breaking with convention. A threat from the system administration to change the boundaries of the virtual space, or a perceived failure to take action against harassment can spark the moment where members speak of themselves as "we": "We have to do something.

It constructs gay men as horny, sexually compulsive adolescent boys "in real life," all over 18, to keep the enterprise legal. Although the initial impulse for establishing an online queerspace may be to set up a "safe" environment where people can feel free to express their identities, such spaces also become the sites where identities are shaped, tested, and transformed, both individually and corporately.

Not surprisingly, America Online handles issues of harassment with a mix of official policies and software features.