Familiar and Faceless

Jeff Pack '99, Brown University (English 112, 1996)


Identifiers are rather hard to come by in cyberspace. All that we know about most individuals we encounter on the Net is their address: their name (or a pseudonym) and the name of their service provider. The clues one could pick up on in the real world, such as physical appearance or voice inflections, have no analogue in the digital. This can lead to misunderstandings, such as when sarcasm is often interpreted as hostility (an occurrence so common that it has led to the development of a crude analogue to facial expression, the "emoticon" or "smiley").

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