Ph.D thesis on "Conversational Analysis of Chatroom 'talk'"
Masters thesis: Influence of the World Wide Web on literature
School of Literary and Communication Studies
Geelong Victoria Australia
Supervisor: Dr Lyn McCredden, Research and Graduate Studies Convenor
Internet site provider - University of South Australia
November 25, 1997
The argument of oral versus literate cultures is once again taking on new dimensions with the rise of the Internet. Whether people are Internet-literate or not is adding to the Great Divide theories of the 1980's, though they should be short lived. These arguments over whether a literate culture was superior to an oral culture threaten to spill over into the debate of technological communication superiority. Just as some people believe that literacy leads to higher forms of thought there are those who believe being on-line is important to communication evolution. It is easy to push this line so far as to seeing non-technological societies as inferior to ones which embrace new communication technologies such as the Internet. But the Internet will be different from other forms of communication which divided people in the past. In the past it was difficult for some sectors of society (women, poor, various ethnic and religious mixes, age: too young, too old) to obtain the technology to advance themselves. Dale Spender writes well on these topics. With the Internet, as I will say below there are many resources for anyone to make their presence felt, their say heard and their literature available.
There was the argument that the Internet would separate the rich from the poor even more. That it would be available to middle-class westerns and mainly to males (Spender). Because the United States dominants the Internet there is the questioning of United States values being projected to the world through literature as it has in past times. But this too will even out as more countries become hooked up to the Internet
Other concerns with the use of the World Wide Web as a source of literature are: rarely do articles have dates for when they were published on the Internet, was this piece written five years ago or last week and what editions or what edit is it of the original piece? At this time no on-line journals has the reputation of print academic journals and until they do print journals will be more sought after. Rarely is the source or qualifications of the author known. Just because they put a Dr in front of their name or a phd after we do not know if the writer is who they say they are. And the most upsetting aspect of the Internet is the disappearing web pages. This happens when a site is no longer on-line for any one of a variety of reasons: through the server crashing (I lost 200 sites on Angelfire because of a system crash they had, I lost over a hundred sites on geocities because they deleted a major site I had and I lost over one-hundred web-pages on another server when they went out of business - for several months there were over three-hundred of my sites - mostly poems - giving back the message of 'ERROR - The requested URL could not be retrieved'. I also lost a year's work which was difficult at the time to accept.
In Australia the Internet is widely available to anyone anywhere for free. All the libraries and schools have computers and Internet available. It is a simple matter of booking time at the library or spending long hours at university but at least in Australia there is no excuse why anyone can not have their text placed on the Internet and for free. There are many services which give free web sites; the best and easiest to use are geocities and Angelfire. There are many free community based servers along with universities and public schools that will give users free space. A list of free web sites is available from http://www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Internet_Services/Web_Services/Free_Web_Pages/ and http://www.netutopia.com/freebies/freepage.html . Angelfire and Geocities even provide templates making it extremely easy for anyone to place their poems or stories on the Internet. And for those who want to learn how to make their pages look more interesting there are many Internet based tutorials that teach simple World Wide Web language. The point being that anyone can contribute to world literature via the Internet. There are also several free World Wide Web E-Mail services, such as goplay at http://www.goplay.com and hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com. With Internet Cafes and soon Internet computers installed at shopping centres, gas stations, airports and on street corners there will be no new class of internet poor. The new World Wide Web based literature will be the literature of the people, of the reader and not necessarily of any particular institution or writer.
The World Wide Web will be more accessible to more people to place their literary genius before the tens of millions of people who view the Internet on a daily basis.