Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 20

to your boss; you're just sitting in your office, typing away, and staring at your computer screen. If you didn't have email, you'd write the note on paper or make a phone call. And when you log into a discussion group, you're not thinking about entering a brave new world; you're probably trying to find out what's wrong with your printer or how to get the fleas off your cat.

Nevertheless, computer networks that let us communicate with people we can't see have created a place that didn't exist before. It's a place that's hard to name or describe, because it exists only in our minds. It's called cyberspace.

The terms "cyberspace," "the net," and "the Matrix" are used interchangeably in this book. John S. Quarterman, an expert in computer communications who coined the term "the Matrix," defines it as all the networked computers in the world that can exchange electronic mail. (Endnote #2) It includes both the Internet and commercial online services like Prodigy.

Cyberspace contains many different cultures, which some writers have called "virtual communities." Each of these communities has its own rules and customs. But many rules apply throughout almost all of cyberspace. And the purpose of this book is to teach you those rules -- to give you a "ticket" to the culture of cyberspace. "Netiquette" is the etiquette of cyberspace.

Q. We can't see people when we talk to them on the phone. Are you trying to tell me I'm entering cyberspace when I call my grandmother in New Jersey?

Actually, at least one writer has defined cyberspace as the place where a telephone call happens. (Endnote #3) But for most people, "cyberspace" refers to the psychic space where we communicate through computers. Unlike computer networks, telephones have not created communities of people


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