InterChange on Classroom Community (2/7/95)

Note: This InterChange session was conducted in an anonymous mode.

To return to the Part Two page, click here.

The first thing I'd like you to do before we begin discussion today is 
to switch to an anonymous mode of discussion.  To do so, go the the 
InterChange menu, choose Pseudonym..., backspace over your name, 
and click ok.  Now all your messages will be anonymous.

Now that our identities are masked, let's have a frank conversation 
about what it means to be a member of a virtual community, in 
particular, the one that consists of this class.  The following set of 
questions should help us focus our discussion:
--what are the implicit "rules of membership" in this community?
--as a member of the community, what obligations do we have to 
ourselves, one another, and the community itself?
--what are the ramifications of members not abiding by the 
community's rules?
--should we police ourselves, and if so, how?

uh hello i'm just checking to make sure this is anonymous

I am not sure about how virtual our community is.  I mean we know 
each other in real life.   the only rules of membership are like those 
of any class- you should want to participate and learn about the 

To be a member in our virtual community, I think that everyone 
must just participate and enjoy

One rule would probably be to remain focused on the goals of the 
class and not get off track.  We all have tons of E-Mail flowing in and 
out of our accounts, so we must remain on track and to the point.  
I'm not trying to discourage other conversations from taking place, 
but we all have a lot to do besides what is assigned in this class.

In light of what is happening now with the student who posted 
pornographic material on the Net, I would have to say that the 
administrators are as confused as all the rest of us as to what the 
proper "policing" actions are.

To be a member in any community, including the virtual community, 
first one should learn to respect each other's opinion, no matter how 
different they can be.

I think that sometimes everyone will get "off track" though.  This 
class has alot of things due even when we don't have the class that 
day, which can really be a pain sometimes, especially when you have 
exams or other assignments in other classes.

I don't think we should post any official rules.  You just have to have 
an unsaid understanding that the you will contribute to the group as 
positively as you can, just like in any community.  By the way, how 
can I refer to anyone's comments if they don't even have a 

i am still wondering what is so virtual about this class???

one rule must be that members keep up their work. This is 
important because when one member doesn't keep up their end of 
the bargain it can mess everyone else up. I know that everyone has 
tons of other work to do as well, but I think that as a part of this 
little virtual community we owe it to each other to keep up with our 
work. If you skipped out on doing your work in the "real world" you 
get FIRED.

In this community there are no ramifications for acting outside of the 
rules, or guidelines, because the only actual authority rests with Dr. 
Butler; therefore the only person who can actually implement any 
sort of disciplinary action is him.

When being part of a virtual community it is important to keep in 
mind many things. Should there be limitations to what is written and 
posted on the Internet? Censorship is a big issue as we can see from 
the recent event on campus. 

I think everyone in this class pretty much stays on track and that 
there aren't many people in this class who would break rules if there 
were any.

Being a member of a community should mean that you know and 
realize what is expected of you .  Policing should be done on your 
own and if someone can't follow the rules they should be kicked off.

I have the same question: how is this class a virtual community?

I realize that this class is a lot of work, but is if you  were in a 
regular 125 class you would have many more papers and much 
much more boring writing to do. At least this class is useful and 
applicable to other classes you have.

Well aren't we engaging in virtual discussion right now?

Next, being a member of a community, one should help each other 
whenever he or she is in trouble.

Every member has the obligation to behave properly, though he has 
the right to express his ideas freely.

That's true; my roommate is always writing essays about essays 
about essays about movies and crap like that. Be thankful.

Well, it is a virtual community because all we do is comminicate for 
the mosrt part over the computer

to the pseudonym problem posed by the person above perhaps we 
should assign ourselves numbers..

How is a virtual community different from what we do?

This class is simulating a virtual community.  That's why we took the 
class in the first place.  We have engaged in an electronic discourse 
community, which I might add is a virtual community.  It's right in  
the course description.

How can we do that w/o knowing whose # is whose?

We are a virtual community.  I'm not talking WELL level bonding, 
but none the less it is a community.  The members of this class just 
happen to be in the same room, we can still have this discussion if 
we were all over the world.  That is if you wanted to.

Does everyone feel part of a community here?   Or of communities?  
It seems like there are many overlapping communities in operation, 
and not everyone's part of them all.

that's the anonymity of it

True...we do have a much more interesting class than a regular one, 
but I still think sometimes the deadlines when we don't have class 
are a pain.

it is a virtual discussion but we all know each other.  I guess i don't 
really see it as virtual if we have real life interactions too.

A virtual community is not different from what we do.  We just see 
each other in class too much!

what i mean is how do we stop 2 people from taking the same #?

Were not supposed to know whose # is whose

To be frank, compared with other more conventional 125 classes, I 
like this class better because I am learning what I want to. However, 
there is really a lot of work. Midnight deadline is also a problem for 
me who usually go to the computing site early in the morning (sth. 
like 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.).

I agree w/ the deadline thing. 

I agree w/ the deadline thing. 

I feel a part of a community but only on-line.  Out side of the 
computer it is a different feeling of comminity...cold.

Maybe we should look more at our class' responsibility as a virtual 
community rather than a typical virtual community (by the way that 
word is overused in this class

I agree that this class is very interesting...however, should we have 
assignments due everyday even though we meet twice a week?

What holds a virtual community to any kind of "responsibility"?

We don't even need a formal discussion about rules.  By necessity the 
rules will just develop as problems arise, can't you see that the 
organization of this group is forming, starting with the ID system.

Hmmmm.  Since Dr. Butler DOES have the ultimate "authority" in this 
class, CAN it be a community?   Maybe I'm defining "community" 
more as a group of equals.  But Dr. Butler participates in a lot of what 
we do--but is he "equal"?  Or, for that matter, are we?

Why not use nicknames?

They're less likely to be duplicated.

an answer to the question above, the members do  they tend to 
govern themselves through rules and idiosyncrasies they set for 

go ahead...give yourself a nickname!!!!  no one is stoping you!

Wayne can pretty much dictate what he want said, so I guess we're 
more like a talk show than a community.

A talk show....good call!

I can't get into pseudonym---can someone help?

Thank you.

I like what someone said about respecting each others' opinions.  The 
only reason the student got into such trouble by posting a sexual 
fantasy on the net was because he used ANOTHER student's name (a 
woman).  He crossed the boundary of respecting another living 
breathing human being.

Yes I think he did. However how the admin. handled it was 

I would have to support the person's comment about a cold 
community when not on-line. I feel the same way. I think the 
problem may be that we do not interact enough face-to -face to feel 
comfortable with one another. Or at least approach each other...

let's not go too far, the President can dictate whatever he wants also, 
and the last time I checked, The United States wasn't The Oprah 
Winfrey Show.

True...but haw can you write a story without using names.  Most 
likely, someone around the world has the name that you are going to 

Actually the person's name he used was not a random fabrication. 
She was in a lecture of his here at school.

What if the that student used someone's nick-name instead of a real 
name in his story, would he be crossing the boundary of respecting  
another not-living not-breathing virtual human being?

I find it very unusually that people believe the communities on-line 
are warmer than real communities.  If you really believe this, you 
need someone to hug you.

One can write a story using a Miss X or something 
like that.

That is a good point about the names all over the world...maybe he 
should of just made one up so if they asked him he could be honest.

for god's sake- the guy could of invented a name- he invented the 
rest of the story didn't he? Using a name of some one you've met in a 
role like that is pretty much disgusting.

Yes, I think what the suspended (still?) student did wrong was that 
he use another student name! This is the most crucial point of the 
issue. I respect his freedom to express himself, but using another 
student name is totally unacceptable. It sounds something like 


Miss X is boring, I'm not saying I'm defending this misguided fellow, 
but I have a harder time trying to get into a story about Miss X.

I don't think that we are an actual virtual community because we see 
each other and interact with each other outside of class, in typical 
communities they seem much more spread apart and diverse. we are 
not because we are all college students at a prestigious public 
university,therefore we all had a good education, which means that 
we came from decent neighborhoods that had money to support 
schools.i know I'm getting offtrack but i really do not think of this as 
being anything close to something you'd find on the IRC

Need a hug...the point is I don't know anyone well enough in this 
class to call let alone get a hug from.  Think about the only way we 
really know eachother is through the that warm?

The pseudonym function only works once.  That is, once you choose a 
pseudonym or to be anonymous, you can't then go back and change 
it.  A security system, I suppose, to keep people from changing 
identities in midstream?

As the editors in the Daily pointed out this morning, is it technically 
harassment if he didn't send the story directly to her?

So we're in a warm online community and a cold f2f community.  
How about other communites, like IRC, pine, WWW, etc., etc........seems 
like all those communities intersect.  Funny how being anonymous 
feels warmer than flesh and blood.  Is anybody in a warm-feeling f2f 

I don't like the idea of that kind of security system. Security is the 
wrong word I think.

Oh, what an interesting viewpoint. I want to know more why some of 
you say that it is a COLD community when not on-line. Don't you like 
face-to-face interaction? Do you feel uncomfortable in doing so? 
Maybe uncomfortable enough to express yourself normally.

I don't think that all communities are warm.  It happens to be the 
case in this class

Must a community consist only of equals?  Don't "real" communities 
have different levels of power?

I don't think security involves the thought-police.

But did you read what he wrote?  Pretty gross.  And the fact that the 
woman was an acquaintance.

i don't think we should make assumptions about the case until we 
have heard the facts. I am in the process of finding out more info 
from the admininstrators (if I'm lucky!) and I will report what i find. 
I intend to ask what are the grounds for expulsion over use of email, 
.or whatever it was he used. i also want to know how they traced 

I have classes that incorporate a lot of f2f and are a hell of a lot 
warmer than this one, on-line or off.

Security, if you   would wanted sercurity use e-mail.  Oops, I forgot 
the fact that is monitered also.

The Daily indicates that the student didn't have any personal 
relations with the woman. 

there is no such thing at this university as a warm f2f class.

I thought that he didn't even know the woman, he had only heard 
her name in a class of his.

He had her in a lecture class, as I understand it, and remembered her 

I think the reason some of us don't feel part of the community is 
because the interactions we take place in revolve around school 
work.  And because of this, many people probably try to limit their 
interactions because, basically, who likes school work?  However, we 
can't forget the purpose of this class.  We are here to learn how to act 
responsibly within a community.  Some of us may like it, others may 
not.  This is a college class and we have to figure out where our 
interests are at.  I guess one rule that could be afixed to this class is:  
try to like it for a term and engage in the community with everyone 
else.  If you want to take the skills learned in this class beyond the 
classroom -- good, Dr. Butler has done his job.  Other than that, this 
class is doing a good job, I think, for a bunch of first timers.

We do have something called the First Ammendment, and although it 
has been ruled to have limitations, I think the more authorities go 
against the Bill of Rights, the more the American people are hurt.  

Irc, pine and all the others don't really give you a chance to ever see 
the person you a re talking to.  That is what makes this class strange.  
I guess the fault is our for not trying to get to know one another.

I don't think you can compare IRC, etc, with this class..they're 
different kinds of communities. And I have many warm f2f classes 
that I feel comfortable in.ÉI think it's WORSE making the story public than sending it directly to 
her.  Is writing something awful about someone on a bathroom wall 

Was the story posted on the internet like the usenet or was it an 
email of his?

I don't know....this discussion IS sounding like Oprah.....

I think it was usenet. But what about HIS rights? Is anyone 
concerned with the way Baker has been treated?

I have had warm f2f classes where I have gotten to know almost 
everyone in there.

Yea, but we're not all millionares like Oprah.  We're all leading this 

"Divorced hermaphrodite mothers who have twins"........on the next 

Concerning university classes not being warm, Bull stat!   me and my 
english 125 class last semester were total chums by the end of 
semester, and that was a university class.  I guess it helped that we 
all lived in the same dorm, but still I felt comfortable giving many of 
the people a hug.  But I do agree that most classes aren't like that.

I think it's funny how people on the Net never want to talk about 
anything serious. Seems to apply to this class, too.

with regard  to the above comment about not feeling comfortable 
with expressing your feelings f2f, I would agree because if people 
don't hear what you're actually saying, they can pick up clues from 
your body language. It is also hard to be completely honest with 
other people because more than likely they have already labeled you 
in their head as to whether or not to listen to you or take you 

I think the comment made about the virtual community of this class 
being warmer than the real life community of this class makes sense.  
We are not familiar with each other on a face to face basis.  (At least 
not all of us).  I don't find virtual communities warmer than real 
ones but in this case when comparing the two in this class, it is 
obvious which is warmer.  You don't have to be uncomfortable with 
yourself to realize that!  

I stilll think we need a picnic. :-)

We talk about serious things all of the time on interchange?

Real New England communities during the colonial period had town 
criers whose function is was to pass along news and keep time.  So, I 
will play that role in here:  It's 10:40 and all's well.  But by 10: we'll 
need to get together face to face for small group work on our essays.

I think what someone says is the most important aspect of a 
conversation, not who they are or whether they scratch themselves 
while they are saying it.

Real communities do have some power structures, I suppose.  But 
don't people choose communities?  Or do they just "happen"?  I 
mean, will people in this class be a community after the class is 
over?   Are there temporary communities?

don't mention food pleez i'm starving in case you didn't hear my 
stomach growl

Is anyone findng the conversation is hard to keep up with?

That's right. A community may not consist of "equals". There must be 
some kind of hierarchy of power somehow. The most important thing 
is that everybody, no matter where he is in this hierarchy, respect 
each other. By this I include that people of superior power should 
also respect people of inferior power. In other words, difference in 
power is not a barrier to communication.

That's the problem you get when there are twenty people talking in 
one conference who are all anonymous.


you've got a lot to say there

I think were late if we need to work f2f by 10:00

Sorry, pushed the worng button.  

Yeah--town crier could you reclarify what time we have to get 

: )

I think that the virtual communities are to young.  Or maybe that we 
haven't spent enough time on them.  Rhiengold spent years on well 
of coarse he is going to know everyone and feel comfortable.  Just 
give the comunity time to develope as you develope

Goodbye :)

See ya!!!

I'm scared to see real people face-to-face.

bye bye

I'm scared to see real people face-to-face.

To return to the Part Two page, click here.

Contact wbutler@umich
with comments or questions.

Modified: 3/4/95