“THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID” Online Humor, Performance, and Collaboration Megan K. Mize
HUMOR & ONLINE COMMUNITIES• Promotes community building• Encourages the exchange of ideas• Decreases fear of judgment• Allows creation of multiple spaces• Permits ﬂuid constructions of identity• Enables Creativity and Productivity
DIGITAL SPACESDifferent Forms of Humor Signal Perceived Spaces
CONSTRUCTION OF GROUP IDENTITYShared Humor Suggests Shared Values
BEYOND LOLCATSCollaborative Humor Emerges During Online Composition Even Within Academia
LITERATURE AND THEORY• Ron and Suzanne Scollon: Sociolinguistic “face” as “The negotiated public image, mutually granted each other by participants in a communicative event” (45).• Paul Willis: Participatory culture as one in which, “people creatively respond to a plethora of electronic signals and cultural commodities in ways that surprise their makers, ﬁnding meanings and identities never meant to be there…”• Gregg Camﬁeld: “humor opens positive cognitive possibilities…even creating new neural pathways, open spaces for learning.”• Katherine Hayles: “Current evidence suggests that we are now in a new phase of the dance between epigenetic changes in brain function and the evolution of new reading and writing modalities on the Web.”• Cathy Davidson: “As long as we focus on the object we know, we will miss the new one we need to see. The process of unlearning in order to relearn demands a new concept of knowledge not as thing but as a process, not as a noun but as a verb.”
QUESTIONSHow is the digital experience changing humor?How does online humor aid in the construction of multiple identities for a singleindividual?How might the anonymity of some sites actually increase that sense of belonging?
QUESTIONS• Are the stakes then higher for academics who must identify themselves? Does humor offer a safeguard for potential missteps in the performance?• How might humor in digital spaces function as a valuable cultural tool, not simply in terms of critique and subversion, but in terms of productivity?• Is online humor a homogenizing force?
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