Cyber Experience Project Assignment
This is an assignment for each individual in the class. The aim of this project is to gain a visceral appreciation for the differences between human relationships in cyberspace and real space. There are several steps to this assignment.
  1. You will need to go on-line and find a chat room, a MUD, a MOO, or any other cyber gathering place. (This will, of course, require that you acquire the skills that are necessary to access this place). You will then need to acquire the skills to meet and communicate with others. You will then need to establish a short-term relationship with at least one stranger on-line. For our purposes, you can say that you have established a "short-term relationship" with a stranger on-line only if: (1) you have chatted with that person for a total of at least 1 hour, (2) you have found one another in cyberspace on at least two separate occasions, and (3) this person is someone who you did not meet or come to have knowlege of through any non-cyber techniques. (The idea here is that we don't want you to just chat with someone that you already know or that you could have been introduced to by your friends or family. This should be a real and total stranger to you. If you absolutely cannot make arrangements for re-contact, we will permit you to have 30-minute chats with four different people. That might replicate the effect that we are trying to produce.) After you make initial contact, you can make arrangements to meet in a specified chat room at a pre-arranged time or you can take your interaction into e-mail. (For the purposes of this assignment, you will need to document this "relationship" in some way.) We suggest that you have a specific interest or topic in mind when you seek out this other person. You can chat about some interest or hobby that you have in common, or you can chat about the future of cyberculture. You could interview them regarding your final courese presentation topic. The content is really not all that crucial. The aim is simply to establish this contact and to see what is involved in getting to know someone in cyberspace.
  2. We want you to seek out and meet a stranger in the Elon College/Burlington community. This person cannot be an employee of Elon College. Again, we are asking you to go out and meet a total stranger. Tell them that you are doing a class project and that you'd like to interview them. Arrange a time and place where you can sit down to chat for no less than 30 minutes. This time it really would be best for you to focus your discussion on the topic of technology and culture. You should ask them their opinions on the types of questions that we will be discussing in this course. You could use them as a resource for your final project. Here again, you will need to document this discussion. You can do this by taking detailed notes. At the top of your note page, you should list the date and time of the interview, the place where it occurred, the full name of the person who you interviewed, and their phone number.
  3. After you have completed part one and two of this project, the final step involves your writing a short paper that captures your reflections on these experiences. Given the elements of this assignment, a compare and contrast paper would be most appropriate. You should (at a minimum) reflect on:
    • your "sense of self" in each of these circumstances
    • the nature of "community" that is possible in each space
    • the "embodied" vs "disembodied" experience (For examle, gender differences, beauty, skin color, size, etc.)
    • limits or degree of freedom that is possible in each place
    This paper should be somewhere between three and five pages in length. (That is, 3-5 pages in addition to the pages that you attach to document parts 1 and 2). The main paper should be typed using standard margins, etc.etc. This paper will be due on Jan. 18th as you enter class. You can turn this paper in at any point prior to this date.