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The Social Construction of the Web

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: Augus 13, 1998
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The Free Graphics Issue: No Forum
Sex on the Internet
"The truth shall make you free." Access and Information Control

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The Free Graphics Issue: No Forum

In the beginning the Web was free form. It just grew, kind of like Topsy. But, then, "[i]n August 1995," a bare three years ago, "the first paid-for advertising banner appeared on the original Web indexing service, Yahoo!." And it was said "The Net was Dead." (Source: Wendy M. Grossman, net.wars, at p. 150)

With that event, the Web was seen as a potential market. If you surf the Web carefully you will find artists who subscribe to the carrot and stick theory, that newcomers are barbarians with no manners - a kind of frontier attitude, and you're the city slicker. (Wendy Grossman, net.wars) You'll find others determined to keep the Web a community of people. (Stacy Horn, Cyberville : Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town.) You'll find others, like Jeanne, who are absolutely delighted to see their art everywhere. I once new an artist who said art was meant to be exhibited as a part of discourse. Yes! And you'll find that almost all artists are taking the precaution of changing the file names on their artwork so that no one can effectively link to their servers. The Web is still people. People of all persuasions. And those of us who are the newly invading barbarians need to learn the problems of the frontier. Thus this conection to WebPresence.

I'm just proud enough to not bluff as a puffed up bullfrog of academe. I'm not sure what Web Presence is. I don't quite know if it's the site linked to just below. Or if it's like a network or "pod" or a community. But they sure need a forum to alert us new people to the damage we can do if we're not careful. So here's a forum. Link to the widowsweb site, and listen in good faith to the graphic artists.

Please note that the threaded discussion for this topic revolves around the need for a forum to be heard in good faith whenever there is a need to express a validity claim. Graphic artists understood clearly what was happening that was destroying their sites. But they had no formal access to a forum where they could get us newcomers to listen. Even when they could get our attention, by putting messages on their graphic art sites, they had no guarantee that we would slow down long enough to read their message in its entirety. That's why sound bites developed. Say it fast, with pzazz to get their attention. Worry about critical thinking later. All of these are "attitude and persuasion change" theoretical issues that apply to much more than the graphic art issue. Look for the threaded discussion.

Now, on to the needed forum for graphic artists on the Web:

Web Presence Icon A Graphic Artist's Plea

Sex on the Internet

First, we would like to make perfectly clear that you cannot do it on the Internet, and that we don't think virtual reality counts. That means, that like all else, this is really a discussion of people and sex, not the Internet and Sex. The Internet is technology, a tool. It can exchange messages far faster than snail mail. It can screen visible stigmas, so that messages cannot use that information as a part of their content. It can operate as a factor in creating new normative patterns of interdependence in relationships. It can enable a different kind of stalking. But stalking still requires a person to be the stalker and to have the mindset that will lead to stalking.

Second, this is a free speech issue. Censorship has awful potential. It becomes an issue whenever there is a quasi-public medium to which many have access and in which some object to the preferences others display for the nature of the messages, both verbal and visual. Pornography is available on the Net. Pornography is available. Once television took that into account. Now, we are treated to commercials on hemmrhoids. Go figure!

Wendy Grossman addresses this issue in our text. net.wars It is a United States preferred item of daily gossip. Consider the White House Escapades with Clinton and Lewinsky and Tripp and a cast of thousands. Consider that many of our world neighbors are appalled by the adolescent U.S. preoccupation with sex. And then consider Catharine MacKinnon's genuine concerns over pronography. Process text in Fall of 1998>

"The truth shall make you free."
Access and Information Control

"The truth shall make you free." The Christian Bible, John 8:32

Access matters. Access to a forum means that your message has an audience. Access to the media means that you have a much broader far-reaching forum. Access to information means that you have data with which to make decisons. Access to people in varying positions of power determines the social, economic, and political networks within which you can function effectively.

Issues of justice and fairness permeate the entire matter of access. If you have no computer, you have no Web access. If you have access only to labs and public places for Web access, your time can be severely limited, and consequently, your ability to grow in skills and knowledge. When private schools are wired to the Web, and public schools cannot afford that access, we are creating tremendous differentials in access to knowledge and power. The e-rate was the government's attempt to balance that access differential. That effort is now being rescinded. In this space, we expect you to join us in creating a process text on issues of Web access. See the Sociology Deaprtment Web Board for the topic, once school begins.


Grossman, Wendy M. net.wars. New York University Press, New York, 1997.

Visit for more information on Wendy Grossman's net.wars

Horn, Stacy. Cyberville : Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town, Warner Books, 1998.

Visit for more information on Stacy Horn's Cyberville.

Some reviews on this book reflect displeasure with the use of vulgar language. If such language offends you, you may want to review other sources. I chose the book because of the admirationn expressed by many with Horn's sure-footed ability to focus on the people that constitute the human interdependence that makes up the Web. If you choose other resources, please focus on that human interdependence and the structure of the relationships it affords. I will shortly add a community reference on the Well community in the San Francisco area. That may be more to your liking. If so, please feel welcome to make that change.

Rheingold, Howard. "The Virtual Community"

Exploring virtual communities on the Web

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