Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 251–266 | Cite as

“Anonymity is part of the magic”: Individual manipulation of computer-mediated communication contexts

  • David Myers


This study looks at the behavior of self-selected users of an electronic bulletin board system (BBS). Its goal is to investigate the reported lack of social context cues in computer mediated communication contexts. Using participant observation methods, the study demonstrates how BBS users establish online identities. The study also identifies communication “leaders” who maintain their identities and leadership roles through manipulation of the BBS social context. These findings appear to contradict perspectives that characterize computer-mediated communications as “deindividuated” (Kiesler et al, 1984).


Social Psychology Social Context Social Issue Leadership Role Cross Cultural Psychology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Besston, T. and T. Tucker 1984 Hooking In: The Underground Computer Bulletin Board Workbook and Guide. Westlake Village, CA: ComputerFood Press.Google Scholar
  2. Emmet, R. 1981 VNET or GRIPENET? Datamation (Nov.):48–58.Google Scholar
  3. Feldman, M. and J. March 1981 Information in organizations as signal and symbol. Administrative Science Quarterly 26:171–186.Google Scholar
  4. Fine, G.A. 1981 Fantasy games and social worlds. Simulation & Games 12:251–279.Google Scholar
  5. Hiltz, S.R. and M. Turoff 1978 The Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  6. Kerr, E.B. and S.R. Hiltz 1982 Computer Mediated Communication Systems: Status and Evaluation. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  7. Kiesler, S., J. Siegel, and T.W. McGuire 1984 Social psychological aspects of computer mediated communication. American Psychologist 39:1123–1134.Google Scholar
  8. Kling, R. 1980 Social analyses of computing: Theoretical perspectives in recent empirical research. Computing Surveys 12:61–110.Google Scholar
  9. Kling, R. and E. Gerson 1978 Patterns of segmentation and intersection in the computing world. Symbolic Interaction 1:24–43.Google Scholar
  10. Marvin, C. 1983 Telecommunications policy and the pleasure principle. Telecommunications Policy 7:43–52.Google Scholar
  11. Marvin, C. and Q. Schultze 1977 The first thirty years: CB in perspective. Journal of Communication 27:104–117.Google Scholar
  12. Miller, G.R. 1978 The current status of theory and research in interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research 4:164–178.Google Scholar
  13. Myers, D. 1985 A new environment for communication play: Online play. Paper presented at The Association for the Anthropological Study of Play, Annual Conference. February.Google Scholar
  14. Pool, I. De Sola 1983 Technologies of Freedom. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  15. Rice, R.E. 1984 The New Media. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Short, J., E. William, and B. Christie 1976 The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Strauss, A.L. 1959 Mirrors and Masks. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  18. Turkle, S. 1984 The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  19. Uhlig, R.P. 1977 Human Factors in Computer Message Systems. Datamation (June): 120–126.Google Scholar
  20. Vallee, J. 1982 The Network Revolution. Berkeley, CA: And/Or Press, Inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Myers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationsLoyola UniversityNew Orleans

Personalised recommendations