Students writing in asynchronous electronic conferences face two interrelated challenges. The students participate in a multiparty "conversation" in a temporary discourse community and they renegotiate the individual identities they present to one another in their virtual scriptorium.
Individual writers use their own idiolects to influence the form and nature of electronic discourse, adapting their own tacit knowledge of conversational strategies and written discourse to the new medium. They create a real, if temporary, community, which they expand and sanction by their engagement.
In this discussion, we look at how two different kinds of student groupings repeated or emulated features of discourse from online text as well as each other's electronic writings in two different kinds of conferences, as a way of representing themselves as individuals while participating in group interaction. That community is made up of individual identities, which are "situated, motile, shaded, purposive, consequential, negotiated" (Moerman 1988, p. 90; cf. Rampton 1995, p. 90).
We look at two different mainframe conferences in order to see how their participants used similar means to represent themselves as individuals while engaged in acts of adaptation to their group interaction. We propose that analysis of the ways identity is constructed through conversational interaction can be extended to include the style-shifting in rapidly-keyboarded electronic discourse, a writing that reads like talking.
We first summarize the situations presented by the two conferences, as they differed in topical focus, in the kinds of discourse they elicited, and in the dominant or preferred languages of their participants.
Next, we review how students in both conferences used repetition and emulation in order to communicate their individual identities in group situations that were initiated and sustained by electronic text. Neither the conferencing interaction nor the temporary discourse community, united by a common task and a general topic, existed before the students created them, and both conference and topic winked out of existence after the students completed discussing issues they discovered and invented.
Finally, we examine specific instances from each conference, the first in order to show how students presented their individual patternings, including style shifting characteristic of the individual, and the second to illustrate their stylistic adaptations to one another's writings and to perceived discourse conventions within the conference.
just a test. sorry to bother you.