new book: _Cyberpl at y: Communicating Online_

Brenda Danet brenda.danet at YALE.EDU
Fri Sep 7 18:57:44 UTC 2001

(apologies for cross-posting)

Subscribers to this list may be interested to learn of the publication of
my book, _Cyberpl at y: Communicating Online_ (Berg Publishers, Oxford,
distributed in the U.S. by NYU Press), now available in stores in the
U.S.and U.K., and online.

The book presents five studies of playfulness  and artfulness in
communication on the Internet.  Two studies deal with linguistic and
textual aspects, and three focus on visual aspects. Topics include the
language of two-person public or "business" email, writing as playful
performance in a synchronous chat mode (including typed parodies of
Shakespeare), digital greetings, ASCII art and a related form of text-based
art on IRC, and "font frenzy," a passion for digital fonts. The book is
heavily illustrated with 42 color plates and 91 black and white
illustrations. I have also created a Companion Website for it, at


(don't forget the @!!; best viewed in Internet Explorer)

For obvious reasons, the chapters on the language of email and on writing
as playful performance will be of greatest interest to this list. My
chapter on the language of two-person email in academic and business
contexts is one of the very first to shift from analysis of one-to-many
communication (e.g., in lists like this one) to private email. I focus on
the extreme variability in email in the mid- to late 1990s. The next
chapter looks at creative use of letters and typographic symbols on the
computer keyboard in real time--focusing not on ordinary chat, but on more
or less planned performance, with lots of improvisation. The chapter
combines a shorter study of a sequence of typed improvised simulation of
smoking marihuana (!) with a more extended study of the Hamnet Players, a
group that experimented with text-based virtual theater in the mid-1990s.

The book also includes a cultural critique of digital greetings as *too*
playful, in the late 1990s.

More information on the book, including the Table of Contents, an author
biography, ordering information, resources and links, etc., as well as a
fully illustrated sample chapter, is available on the Website.

Brenda Danet
Emerita in Sociology & Communication, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Visiting Fellow, Dept. of Sociology, Yale University
brenda.danet at
msdanet at
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