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Geeks and creeps in no name land: triangulating anonymity, 2channel and Densha Otoko Youssef, Sandra

Abstract

This thesis examines anonymity online by analyzing the Japanese story “Densha Otoko” in the context of its locus of origin, the online forum 2channel. I argue that the collaborative value of the Densha Otoko narrative hinges on the technological infrastructure provided by its host forum. This infrastructure not only arises from specific technology developments, but also in turn emphasizes freedom of expression over identification. Focusing on the values linked to, and socialities engendered by anonymity in computer-mediated communication, I argue that: First, anonymity is popularly viewed as creating negative results for society at large, as expressed in public opinion of 2ch in general. However, anonymity can also be portrayed as having positive results for individuals, for example in the Densha Otoko narrative specifically. Secondly, anonymity on 2channel – in conjunction with other infrastructural aspects – facilitates ‘individual’ expression and creates a locus for freedom of speech via the elimination of personal identification. Finally, anonymity, in this case study, engenders sociality by drawing on notions of security and privacy.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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