Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers

Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers

Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers

Electronic Tribes: The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, Shamans, and Scammers

Synopsis

Whether people want to play games and download music, engage in social networking and professional collaboration, or view pornography and incite terror, the Internet provides myriad opportunities for people who share common interests to find each other. The contributors to this book argue that these self-selected online groups are best understood as tribes, with many of the same ramifications, both positive and negative, that tribalism has in the non-cyber world.

InElectronic Tribes, the authors of sixteen competitively selected essays provide an up-to-the-minute look at the social uses and occasional abuses of online communication in the new media era. They explore many current Internet subcultures, including MySpace.com, craftster.org, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, music downloading, white supremacist and other counterculture groups, and Nigerian e-mail scams. Their research raises compelling questions and some remarkable answers about the real-life social consequences of participating in electronic tribes. Collectively, the contributors to this book capture a profound shift in the way people connect, as communities formed by geographical proximity are giving way to communities- both online and offline- formed around ideas.

Excerpt

Ronald E. Rice

The authors of this edited book—Adams and Smith; Davidov and Andersen; Olaniran; Standerfer; Dewberry; Russ; Brignall; Skinner; Vance; Rosenthal; Zalot; Naughton; Abrams and Grün; Roy; O'Neil; and Kperogi and Duhé—have written a very interesting and diverse collection of essays and studies on “e-tribes.” One indication of this intriguing diversity is some of the words appearing in these chapters. Consider, for example: anarcho-primitivists, craftsters, craftsterbate, cybercrews, cyberhate, cybertime, digital dreamtime, eco-brutalism, electronic tribal warfare, e-tribes, fetish, fictive kinship, flist, gift economy, hierarchies versus heterarchies, Horde versus Alliance, kerfuffle, massively multiplayer online role-playing game environment, mayhem, online shunning, palimpsest, resurrection, retribalism, slash, talisman, technoshamanism, transparency. It is entirely possible that no prior book (possibly not even a dictionary) includes all of these words.

Rather than make some vague and general statements about the importance, irrelevance, contributions, or threats of e-tribes, I am going to highlight some of the main themes from these chapters: what are e-tribes, sites of analysis, methods, theories, and social implications. in that sense, everything that follows comes directly from the chapters, so in essence I am citing all the authors.

What Are E-Tribes?

The chapters take different positions on the concept of “tribe” and “e-tribes.” Some are more traditional, historical, anthropological, even . . .

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