February 1997

Root Page of Article: Establishing a point of view toward virtual communities, by Frank Weinreich


The term citizen literally means a woman or a man living in a certain town. Its second meaning is that being a citizen means that you are an inhabitant of a state living there in full rights as member of the state. I tried to show that there is no such thing as living on the Net. In this regard there is no such thing as a Netizen.

The Netizen is a citizen with an account and CMC is a sophisticated tool. Nothing more (but that's by far enough!). This tool is used by citizens which, through its use, are enabled to overcome the barriers of time, distance, and travel or phone costs between sender and recipient. Thus CMC offers great possibilities in social interaction, politics, work and entertainment, but it requires responsible behavior in return. And this is where we meet the Netizen. The Netizen is aware of being part of a public network. Like the citizen is part of a state, so is the Netizen: a member with full rights, but also with the duty of responsible behavior and the demand of defending this place of free speech and unrestricted interaction(or else she might loose it). Netizenship doesn't mean leading a second (and third and fourth and so on) life in virtual worlds, but a responsible and watchful usage of the medium, recognizing the importance and meaning of the Net for the sensual world. [TOC]

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