The Internet Oracle: Virtual Authors and Network Community

David R. Sewell


The Internet Oracle (originally, the Usenet Oracle) was one of the earlier forms of collaborative creation on the Net. The submersion of its authors in an anonymous, collective personality may reflect postmodern notions of the "textualization of the self" in digital writing, or perhaps rather a pre-modern conception of nonprofessional writing as an anonymous dialogue among equals. Participants in the Oracle identify with a "hackish culture" that values wit, self-reflexivity, and anti-authoritarianism, and have managed to create a virtual community with its own conventions and mythos. Originally published in late 1992, this essay has been updated with links to material now available on the Web, and a new Appendix surveys changes in the Internet Oracle since 1992, provides links to new Oracle resources, and considers whether the original conclusions remain valid after four frenetic years of Internet growth.

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