Cyber-Identities and Social Life in Cyberspace

Cyber-Identities and Social Life in Cyberspace

Eleni Berki (University of Tampere, Finland) and Mikko Jäkälä (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch102
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Information and communication technology gradually transform virtual communities to active meeting places for sharing information and for supporting human actions, feelings and needs. In this chapter the authors examine the conceptual definition of virtual community as found in the traditional cyberliterature and extend it to accommodate latest cybertrends. Similar to the ways that previous social and mass media dissolved social boundaries related to time and space, cyber-communities and social software seem to also dissolve the boundaries of identity. This, in turn, questions the trust, privacy and confidentiality of interaction. The authors present a way of classifying and viewing self-presentation regarding cyber-identity management in virtual communities. It is based on the characteristics that cyber-surfers prefer to attribute to themselves and accordingly present themselves to others. In so doing, the authors coin the terms for five distinct phenomena, namely nonymity, anonymity, eponymity, pseudonymity and polynymity. They subsequently compare and contrast these terms, summarising information from their investigation, and outlining emerging questions and issues for a future research agenda.

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