Volume 92, Issue 33

Tuesday, November 3, 1998



Making waves in the virtual sea

The internet is an amazing place to simply explore. Page after page of web-based material lies out there – waiting to be read, watched and listened to.

The internet is about communication and passively viewing it pales in comparison to being a part of the online community. There comes a time when, like in Kung Fu, you must leave the monastery and go out into the wider world.

Remember the internet is a text-based medium. People who encounter you will judge you by your words, your spelling and the maturity you display in your writing.

Short forms such as cyu (see you) and l8r (later) are fine for informal communication, but for larger audiences they should be excised faster than a contraction in an essay. What you say is as important as how – insults, taunts, racial slurs, sexist comments and the like are heavily frowned upon and will often result in your expulsion from whatever forum you chose to vent such obscenities.

For the most part, students will be connecting to the net through Western's network. You might want to remember that you represent your school out there.

You should also pick a "name" or alias to use on the net. Most sites allow you the opportunity to pick a pseudonym which will represent you while you chat. It protects your privacy and it allows you to build up what psychologists will eventually call a net persona.

By using the same name all the time, you will discover people will begin to recognize you. This is a good feeling and useful if you intend on participating in chats or mailing lists.

Various ways exist for a person to get more involved in communicating on the net. IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, provides a world wide, real-time forum divided by channels of interest. ICQ, found at www.mirc.com, allows you to send quick messages to your "buddies" online or participate in random chats.

Mailing lists conduct more formal dialogues through email, with thoughts from each member being sent in a series of messages, allowing a less-segmented discussion than chats.

And, of course, the gaming world of the internet provides one of the most vibrant communities, offering the opportunity for wholesale mayhem and slaughter. Multi-user dungeons are text-based games which re-create the experience of role playing games. More information on "MUDing" can be found at www.mudconnect.com.

Most commercially released games also have internet multi-player capability too. They should include documentation on how to use this feature.

So, toss off those chains of passivity, go online and get involved. When you can debate the ideas presented by a teen in Australia, then you will be ready, Grasshopper.

Area 404 will be appearing biweekly in The Gazette. Any questions regarding the internet or computers can be sent to rmlaidla@julian.uwo.ca.

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998