Text and Performance Quarterly Vol. 25, No. 4, October 2005, pp.

354 Á/372

Live(s) Online: Narrative Performance, Presence, and Community in LiveJournal.com
Kurt Lindemann

Online journals increasingly provide an accessible way to narrate a desired self. This essay examines user posts on LiveJournal, one of the largest free online journal sites in the world. Drawing on scholarly considerations of the diary, narrative performance and technology, and verbal art as performance, this essay examines online journals as performances of verbal artistry and communicative competence that create and sustain ‘‘community’’ through audience response. Ultimately, online narrative performances mirror and resist traditional narrative form, problematize considerations of presence, and extend thinking about audience and community online. Keywords: Blogging; Livejournal.com; Performance; Narrative, Community
11:08 pm: hmm reading (not-so) random (local) people’s blogs makes me envious how entertaining lives can be. (scrungew00t)

Online journals are troubling narrative performance. Online journals provide the means and opportunity for presenting one’s self to a wider audience than ever before in increasingly complex ways, from homeless individuals keeping in touch with their families to gay men and women coming out (Diaz; Easen; White). Specifically, sites like LiveJournal.com, where users volunteer their journals to be rated by others based on journal content (including the use of icons and pictures), raise questions about the criteria for judging the relative ‘‘success’’ of narrative performance, the role of bodily
Kurt Lindemann is a doctoral candidate in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. He wishes to thank Frederick C. Corey and Bonnie J. Eckard for their initial guidance of this project. He is also grateful to Michael Bowman and two anonymous reviewers whose comments and insight proved invaluable in revising this piece. An earlier version of this paper was presented as a Top Four Paper in the Performance Studies Division at the National Communication Association National Conference, Chicago, November 2004. Correspondence to: Kurt Lindemann, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University, PO Box 871205, Tempe, AZ 85287-1205, USA. Tel: 480-965-1641; Fax: 480-965-4291; Email: kurt.lindemann@asu.edu
ISSN 1046-2937 (print)/ISSN 1479-5760 (online) # 2005 National Communication Association DOI: 10.1080/10462930500362494

Online Narrative Performance

355

presence in online performance, and notions of audience and community in online performance. Recent scholarly explorations of online identity (Chvasta ‘‘Mediated’’; Langellier and Peterson; Fenske; Markham; Rheingold; Vrooman) point to a burgeoning conversation about performance online. This essay seeks to add to it a consideration of two LiveJournal.com sites whose communicatively (in)competent verbal performances illustrate online journals as a genre of narrative performance that constructs unique audiences and produces its own version of ‘‘community’’ while reaffirming more traditional ways of examining performance. Christie Logan argues that ‘‘new performance spaces generate new performance modes, newer ways to make meaning.’’ While LiveJournal.com may be a new performance space, its online narratives seem to satisfy traditional conceptions of performance as an ‘‘aesthetically marked and heightened mode of communication, framed in a special way and put on display’’ (Bauman, ‘‘Performance’’ 41). The characteristics of LiveJournal.com make it a particularly interesting site in which to examine narrative performances online and point to a necessary consideration of stylistic competence and bodily presence in online performance. LiveJournal is arguably the most popular online posting site in the world, with 1,414,441 user accounts in over 15 countries at the time of writing (LiveJournal ‘‘Statistics’’). Users with little or no technological savvy can construct narratives using text, personal photographs, icons, and images appropriated from popular culture. Drawing on Richard Bauman’s notion of verbal art as performance, I argue that the success of user posts can be gauged by their communicative competence, including the use of figurative language and special codes. The inclusion of icons and pictures of users problematizes ways of thinking about bodily presence in performance. In the absence of a physical body, I argue, audiences come to read such icons and pictures as ‘‘real.’’ This reading reinforces traditional notions of the body in performance even as presence is infinitely deferred by specific technological features. This examination also engages a consideration of how online narrative performance extends thinking about audience and community. I argue that the communicative competence of users’ posts establishes an interpretive frame that invites enjoyment of the narrative as an act of expression. This enjoyment elicits participation from readers in the form of posted responses, and it is through this participation that users come to understand the cultural norms of LiveJournal.com. Readers can participate by commenting on any entry with their own text and pictures, lending credence to the claim that LiveJournal is ‘‘not just an online journal; it’s an interactive community’’ (LiveJournal ‘‘FAQ’’). While the notion of readers in this context may not satisfy traditional conceptions of audience, I posit that online journaling constructs unique audiences unlike those of traditional oral narrative performance or those of the traditional autobiography or diary. Ultimately, online journals produce their own version of what is commonly called ‘‘community.’’ The invocation of a virtual ‘‘community’’ prompts an interrogation of both terms. Below, I ground a discussion of diaries and online journals in conceptual notions of performance before offering a discussion of cyberspace and the subsequent implications for notions of performance and community.

356 K. Lindemann

Journals as (Online) Performance: Contestations, Consternations, and Constellations Thus far, I have used the term ‘‘online journals’’ rather than ‘‘blogs’’ because while the latter is a recognizable term for online writing, the former invokes a textual construction of an author’s experiences. I will henceforth use the term ‘‘online journal’’ because LiveJournal posts best fit the characteristics of diaries and journals.1 There are several distinctions to consider in this conceptual move. Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson distinguish ‘‘blogs’’ as short bursts of writing activity while characterizing ‘‘journals’’ as extended narratives or stories (160), explaining that ‘‘weblog’’ is a fitting term for both blogs and journals as the term implies a ‘‘web log of activity’’ that can be used to describe an online log that links to other websites as well as a journal or log that is published on the web (160).2 Chvasta uses the terms ‘‘on-line journals’’ and ‘‘diaries’’ relatively interchangeably, employing both to refer to skillfully constructed texts of one’s own thoughts, emotions, and experiences (‘‘Mediated’’). Since I am concerned with journal-style weblogs, I employ the term ‘‘online journals’’ in my subsequent review and analysis. These distinctions are certainly important when framing online writing activity as performances, but a more detailed consideration of online writing as performance makes clear just what is at stake in such a discussion. I engage this discussion by contextualizing the performance function and properties of journals in the ever-evolving relationship between technology and performance, and by exploring how technology has complicated the ways we think about audience. I ground each consideration in Bauman’s conceptualization of verbal art as performance. In doing so, I attempt to establish a tentative framework within which one may judge online journals as skillful performances. Diaries, Journals, and the Verbal Art of Performance Existing scholarship on diaries and autobiography offers useful and interesting ways to think about performance, with both framed as dynamic textual constructions capable of creating memory and collectivity even as they reproduce memory. Some have noted that diaries are characterized with ‘‘facts, with jots, with jogs to the memory’’ while journals contain ‘‘emotions, musings, thoughts’’ (qtd. in Steinitz 46). The difference may not be as important as their unifying feature, namely that an undertaking of either invokes a tension between the presumption of privacy and the (re)creation of experience in a way that invites readers in and ‘‘promise[s] . . . exposure of the private and secret’’ (Steinitz 47). Specifically, as Rebecca Steinitz explains, the way the diary formalizes facts, events, and experiences materially represents the author’s own experience as temporal moment(s) at an ‘‘intersection between the individual and the outside world’’ (47). It is at this intersection that the diary invites readers to recall their own thoughts, emotions, and memory even as the author constructs and sometimes fictionalizes accounts that will always be partial and serve as a reminder of an earlier, former, or different self.3 By skillfully representing his or her experiences in a way that invites reader participation, the diary becomes an

Online Narrative Performance

357

object detached from the author yet remains a reminder of the author’s bodily experience, both in the writing of the diary and in the experiences the diary recounts.4 The function of the diary as a tool that stimulates the (re)creation of memories illustrates the way diaries invoke and implicate an audience. That an audience reads diaries with a heightened awareness of their own memories and experiences suggests that diaries, through their textual constructions, establish an interpretive frame. This communicative establishment of an interpretive frame, Bauman explains, marks the act of expression as ‘‘subject to evaluation for the way it is done’’ and as ‘‘available for the enhancement of experience, through the present enjoyment of the intrinsic qualities of the act of expression’’ (Verbal Art 11). Bauman notes that the verbal art of performance consists of skill and competency, which involves the use of figurative language and parallelism, special codes and formulae, and appeals to tradition (Verbal Art 15Á 21). Although Bauman is addressing the doing or speaking of folklore, his characterizations both apply to and are complicated by online journals. Langellier and Peterson trace the relationship between technology and orality, noting that online journals are characterized by distinctly private performative values that invoke conversation and interactivity, providing ‘‘a ready exemplar to question the changing relations of culture and technology as well as the tendency to privilege oral culture and ‘orality’ in the analysis of storytelling’’ (160). Applying this theoretical framework to online journals, we can view online journals as texts constructed for audiences through the communicatively competent and skillful use of language. Online journal entries employ special codes and shorthand for emotional expression (i.e., emoticons, ‘‘LOL’’ for ‘‘laugh out loud’’) and figurative language that keys audiences to read entries as performances. Online journals can be artistic in so far as they are communicatively competent, and this competence and artistry is often gauged on community-based rules regarding how one handles the technology. For example, some bloggers judge a site’s worth by its posting of links to unique content on the web while others favor an engaging discussion via posting (Rodzvilla 209Á 11). Often, a communicatively artistic journal entry can make a reader feel personally connected to the author (Langellier and Peterson 170Á 78). A skillful online journal performance, then, would seem to be one that, through its communicative competence, establishes an interpretive frame that invites and invokes a direct response from an audience. To extend the links between Bauman’s conception of performance and the ways performance has been conceptualized in the context of autobiography and online journals, however, also necessitates a rethinking of presence in performance.
/ / /

Presence and Performance in Online Journals A common attribute of narrative performance, published, spoken, or both, is an emphasis on the embodiment of that narrative in a co-presence of performer and audience. Whether the storyteller performs the narrative for an audience in his or her immediate presence or the narrative is communicated via the Internet, the storyteller’s experiences must first be embodied (Langellier and Peterson 166Á 67).
/

358 K. Lindemann

In instances where the author performs stories that have already been written this embodiment is understandably and easily framed as a performance, offering us ways to conceptualize the interaction between performers and audience. Elyse Lamm Pineau explains that the ‘‘autobiographical performance’’ of Anais Nin on college campuses offered Nin’s onstage persona as the ‘‘embodied presence absent’’ from Nin’s diaries (99). This presence frames the text as a living thing in a continual process of development, ‘‘thereby inviting her audience to participate in its ongoing enactment’’ as an audience draws on their familiarity with Nin from her diaries (99). Indeed, as Langellier explains, the stories we tell are always situated in and evoke a particular context of cultural and power relationships. Narrative complicates the notion of presence in performance because performers of personal narratives simply cannot tell every story implicated by their own story, even while others’ stories are bound to the performer’s own (Langellier; Langellier and Peterson; Park-Fuller). This dynamic prompts a consideration of the ethics of invoking another’s story who is not present or who cannot present it. This consideration can be paired with one of technology, as technology offers new ways of thinking about presence in performance. Technological advances present performers with challenges to traditional notions of presence and absence. The way presence in performance has been problematized in the past (Auslander; Phelan) prompts one to consider the ways in which presence on stage is a problem. Technology offers few answers and many more questions. As Chvasta explains, online journals ‘‘work against’’ the logic that a live body is Truth. Indeed, in online journals the interpretive framework that invokes and implicates audience also prompts a yearning for the body (‘‘Mediated’’). While Chvasta argues that online journals destabilize the relation between sign and meaning, we can understand that authors and readers of online journals desire the stability of this relationship. Certainly, some users revel in the opportunities to construct ‘‘fake’’ identities on line through gender swapping, but, as Sherry Turkle points out, this behavior can be prompted and accompanied by a user’s considerations of the embodied conflicts he or she experiences in their everyday lives: ‘‘Sometimes such experiences can facilitate self-knowledge and personal growth, and sometimes not’’ (Life 185). This may be because ‘‘when ‘bloggers’ sit down or stand in front of computer screens in order to read or write weblogs, they do not leave their bodies behind’’ (Langellier and Peterson 166). As Langellier and Peterson explain, the weblog or online journal is something in which users invest a reflexivity of the body. Similarly, Mindy Fenske points out that to say that virtuality enables one to transcend the body is to fall into the trap of thinking about presence in a binary fashion. Instead, Fenske argues, an ethical aesthetic engagement of corporeality and virtuality is one that heightens ‘‘an awareness of the event of the body’’ through a dialogic connection (12). This connection need not be completely coherent, either: ‘‘it may be that it is in the lack of conformity’’ where this connection is most heightened (14). Online journal authors may labor to find the body, or the outline of one, even as their performances decenter the relationship of sign and meaning, of body and truth. The ‘‘affective outline’’ left may ‘‘bring us closer to the bodies we want still to touch than

Online Narrative Performance

359

[can] the restored illustration’’ of pictures, icons, or avatars (Phelan 3). In addition to competently establishing an interpretive frame that invites and invokes audience response, then, online journals may also be judged as skilled and competent if they create a desire for presence in attempting to establish a connection between corporeality and virtuality, highlighting the instability of such representation. If, in the case of online journals, the ‘‘restored illustration’’ is the written text, the ‘‘affective outline’’ may be partially located in implicit or explicit ‘‘memories’’ or invocations of presence. Steinitz argues that, since ‘‘one person’s memory of the past can be stimulated by another’s written representation of that same past’’ (50), memory is in a sense transferable, and diaries are capable of generating a shared relation to the past. Given that the success of diaries is in part due to the skill authors use in inviting readers into its affective world (Pineau; Steinitz), audience seems to be another necessary consideration in the examination of online journals as performance. Audience and Community in Online Journal Performances Thus far, I have conceptualized audience simply as the readers of online journals. Similar comparisons are made by Wayne C. Booth and Steinitz. Situated in the context of online journals, however, audiences become a part of the performance in ways similar to audiences in live performances. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s distinctions between live performance and film performance, and on Gregory Bateson’s notions of audience feedback in live performance and performer calibration to improve future film performances, Langellier and Peterson argue that weblog interaction between performer and audience approximates the ‘‘the adaptive action of continuous feedback’’ (165). Online journals offer readers the opportunity to post responses as soon as the entry is read, giving performers nearly immediate feedback on the ways their post has been received. The feedback opportunities granted to readers of online journal entries on LiveJournal.com enables us to consider them as audience(s). I do not mean to imply that online narrative performances are the same as live performances. In fact, I argue that skillful performances as manifested in online journals will establish an interpretive frame that invites reader participation and acknowledges the ways technology enables and constrains a consideration of the relationship between body and text. In other words, skillful performances of online journaling will not treat the online interaction as if it were a face-to-face conversation. Among Web scholars, ‘‘community’’ is an oft-debated concept. Some claim that the use of the term ‘‘community’’ to refer to online social networks is inaccurate and unfaithful to the more traditional notion of community because: technology inhibits democratic involvement among members; computer networks isolate users from each other; and connectivity with others is more imagined than ‘‘real,’’ due in part to the anonymity available in computer-mediated communication, or CMC (Rheingold). Howard Rheingold notes that the term ‘‘social networks’’ might be preferable to the term ‘‘virtual community’’ (359), but that explorations of the notion of community

360 K. Lindemann

must be embedded in larger questions of the impact technology has on human relationships. Rheingold implores us to ask ourselves if face-to-face (FTF) communication is the only type of communication that constitutes community. Charles Soukup, in an exploration of multiuser domains or ‘‘dungeons’’ (MUDs) in which users navigate avatars (e.g., a cartoon, a picture of a celebrity) and communicate with others in various visual settings,5 found that users’ participation in constructing these sites contributed to a feeling of community characterized by cohesiveness and cooperation. Indeed, if the virtual self is a multiplicity of selves that are not ‘‘stable entities’’ (Turkle, Life 261), we must also ask how we might ascertain who is a member of what community or social network. Whether one prefers the term ‘‘social network’’ or ‘‘virtual community,’’ the ways in which members relate to one another is inextricably linked to the existence of common understandings, or interpretive frames, and the communicatively competent practices that establish those interpretive frames. Interactions with another’s written text online, in a book, or in a live performance, can prompt a recall of memories, and these interactions can be characterized as an imagined reality for the reader or audience (Steinitz). Hannah Gourgey and Edward B. Smith note that it may be the distinctiveness of our online experience as opposed to our mundane offline experience that makes the online seem ‘‘more real.’’ These online performances can be situated within a broader conception of the cultural practices of the ‘‘cybertech community’’ (236). This is an interpretive community, the authors posit, that enables users to agree on meanings or at least on what grounds those meanings may be contested. In other words, the ‘‘consensual hallucination’’ of cyberspace is made ‘‘real’’ as members draw on, change, and reify the cultural meanings of their community. Skillful online narrative performances use heightened communication and icons that transcend the mundane nature of everyday life, keying a performance frame that is different from offline experiences and, hence, ‘‘more real.’’ The characteristics of LiveJournal.com allow us to consider the ways audience interaction is related to notions of community. LiveJournal.com is both similar to and different from many of its counterparts. It is similar to sites like Blogger.com in that it offers free and paid accounts for which users sign up. Depending on the status of the account, users can post pictures and drawings, use several small icons (photos of people, cartoon characters, and words) to represent themselves to those online, save their entries and the entries of others to an archive, and post by phone (audio and text messages). LiveJournal users also engage in online activities under the auspices of community and community building. The most prominent of these is the review of users’ journals by other users, in which users volunteer themselves for reviews by others whose own ‘‘success’’ in the review process has qualified them to function as reviewers. Audience interaction, evidenced in reviews and responses to another’s journal entry, provide insight into the ways users draw on interpretive frames, how their responses reify and resist those frames, and how their responses enable and constrain the cohesive, cooperative participation Rheingold and Soukup imply is an integral part of online communities.

Online Narrative Performance

361

Conceptualizing online journal posts as performances, then, requires a consideration of ways in which users’ communication is artistic and competent, inviting reader participation within a broader interpretive frame of shared meanings. Performances may be judged as artistic in the ways they invoke absence and presence, recognize the enabling and constraining features of technology, and invite audience participation through the use of certain markers of performance, including figurative language and special formulae (Bauman Verbal Art). Below, I examine several users’ posts, illustrating the artistry and communicative competence in online performances of journals. I also explore audience participation, as evidenced in responses to these posts, and how this participation helps us to further understand notions of community online. LiveJournal Posts as Artistic and Communicatively Competent Performances There seem to be two ways to access journals considered successful by other LiveJournal users. The first is by clicking at the the ‘‘Random’’ buttom in the LiveJournal homepage and looking at the ‘‘Friends’’ page of a journal. A LiveJournal user can enter other users as ‘‘Friends’’ and can be added by others to a ‘‘Friends of ’’ list. A journal is generally considered, for lack of a better term, ‘‘good’’ if the author has more users who list him or her as a friend than he or she lists as a friend. In other words, a popular user is read by more people than he or she reads. Ultimately, one can link to an unlimited number of users through these ‘‘Friends’’ and ‘‘Friends of ’’ lists. One can also easily access journals considered successful and unsuccessful by other LiveJournal members by going to one of its numerous review sites. This reliance on hyperlinks is characteristic of ‘‘virtual ethnography,’’ and this connectvity is a guiding principle to which online ethnographers should adhere (Hakken; Hine). Presumably, users have any number of reasons for keeping a ‘‘live journal:’’ to keep in touch with friends, to exercise a literary impetus, and simply to be heard. As such, there are likely numerous interesting and worthwhile journal users who have not requested reviews. Nonetheless, the Random Review page, which boasted over a million hits in 2003Á 4, The Reviewers, which has had upwards of 30,000 posts since its creation in 2003, and ljreviewz, which has over 10,000 entries, offer access to several journals whose users ask to be reviewed on their journal’s artistic and communicative merits. As such, the starting point for my analysis is two journals reviewed on Random Reviews in December, 2003.6
/

Communicatively (In)Competent Verbal Performance in LiveJournal One of the most glowing reviews on Random Reviews is for nada_o_nil’s journal, and the review seems to touch on aspects of bodily presence, stylistic comptence, and community. The reviewer antioch_arrow notes that nada_o_nil has several pictures of herself on her site, which ‘‘would suck if she wasn’t pretty. So basically she could potentially suck a lot. But she doesn’t. . . . Did I mention that she’s really pretty?’’ antioch_arrow explains that nada_o_nil’s journal contains a ‘‘collection of short,

362 K. Lindemann

thoughtful pieces, usually relating to the concept of life, love, science, nature and the universe in general,’’ concluding that ‘‘she is well-spoken and extremely thoughtful without coming across like a know-it-all obnoxioustron.’’ Finally, the reviewer seems pleased that nada_o_nil ‘‘links us (in her user info) to some of her ‘non-LJ’ friends and family, which is rad. It’s nice to know that some of us have lives outside this thing, and even better when they’re actually keeping up with multiple blogs and websites.’’ Below, I engage an analysis of the artistry and communicative competence Bauman (Verbal Art) argues is central to understanding verbal performances. I then illustrate that the use of certain linguistic devices, like figurative language and special formulae, key an interpretive frame that invites audience participation. Specifically, I explore how other users respond to the use of these linguistic devices in evaluating the posts in question. Finally, I explore the relationship between body and text through an acknowledgment of the ways technology enables and constrains such a relationship. nada_o_nil’s post dated 8 December 2003 contains two lines at the top of the entry: ‘‘Current Mood’’ and ‘‘Current Music.’’ This is a regular feature of all LiveJournal posts, and these tag lines may also appear at the bottom of the entry. The music tag line does not have a link to an audio clip, but users can choose from a variety of cartoon faces (more fleshed out versions of the emoticon) to accompany their mood tag line. Not all users enter such information, and if they do not, the tag lines do not appear in their entry. nada_o_nil notes that she is ‘‘tired’’ (accompanied by the face of a cartoon ‘‘zombie chick’’ frowning) and is listening to ‘‘Tear in Your Hand’’ by Tori Amos. These tag lines have several functions. Obviously, they indicate the mindset of the user at the time he or she is writing the post. As Steinitz explains, a journal entry can dispatch any number of recalled memories on the part of the reader, created anew as he or she reads the journal. If a reader is familiar with the music, the tag line functions to make present an absent soundtrack, an imagined or recalled tune playing in the background of the post. The music tag line also enables a reader to assess similarities in the user’s taste in music and functions as a kind of ‘‘cool meter,’’ in which a user may display the breadth and depth of his or her musical taste. nada_o_nil’s entry begins with a quote by the poet Rumi about broken hearts. Then one encounters her own words:
There are many things worse than having my heart broken. But none worse than having it left whole . . . The worst agony to [sic] see his face in my mind and still manage a smile and not ask ‘Why? ’, not even cry. No one can ever really tell you what’s real, what’s not. The heart that knows endures quietly, even when everything else breaks apart. (nada_o_nil)

The appeal of this entry rests in part on its use of the first person and revelations about the author’s relationships, fulfilling what Steinitz calls the ‘‘promised exposure of the private and secret’’ (47). This entry also displays the artistry and communicative competence Bauman argues ‘‘key’’ a communication act as performance. First, the use of the emoticon at the top of the entry is a ‘‘special code’’ meant to signal the emotive state of the author (see Bauman, Verbal Art 16).

Online Narrative Performance

363

Given the widespread use of emoticons and its tag line in this entry, this code does not exclude readers unfamiliar with LiveJournal. Other characteristics Bauman mentions as communicative means that key performance include figurative language and parallelism. This author uses figurative language, evidenced in the personification ‘‘the heart that knows,’’ and parallelism, illustrated by the first two lines, juxtaposing a heart broken and the pain of a heart ‘‘left whole.’’ The reader scrolls down and is greeted by a digital photograph of a woman, presumably the author, close up, off-center and slightly out of focus, with half of her face in shadows, wearing a somber look. The post continues with the title ‘‘Bus Stops’’:
There’s a chill in the air that we feel, strangers on a bus, staring straight ahead, ignoring each other. We get off, thirty people dispersing to our real stops, and the same chill follows us, follows me. How incredibly lonely we can be when we act this normal, I think. I walk into my house, two hundred twenty steps later, and feel a warm draft engulf me, like the arms of an unseen lover. . . . In the dark I lie in my bed and feel the chill start up my toes, cold licking its way up my body. How incredibly lonely we can be when we find our real stops don’t stop. (nada_o_nil)

The figurative language (the personification of the ‘‘chill’’ and the ‘‘warm draft’’) keys ´ this entry as a performance. In some ways, however, the language borders on cliche. Certainly, the subject matter of broken hearts (or even a heart left ‘‘whole’’ but sorrowful) is not unique. However, these words* ‘‘broken heart,’’ ‘‘agony,’’ ‘‘lonely’’ in a ‘‘crowd’’* illustrate another of Bauman’s keys of performance, a special formulae. Bauman explains that opening lines like ‘‘once upon a time’’ and ‘‘did you hear the one about . . . ?’’ mark verbal performances as belonging to a particular genre (Verbal Art 21). The use of the words noted above in nada_o_nil’s post situate this verbal performance in a similar way, marking it as part of the provocative literary confessional tales of love and loss from a female perspective, arguably made into a genre by Anais Nin (Pineau). As well as competently and artfully enacting several linguistic devices that key verbal performance, this post also explores the connection between body and technology. The picture of her, with its poor resolution and obvious rejection of proper camera portrait techniques, also contributes to the performance. Granted, one does not really know if the picture is of nada_o_nil, although the numerous pictures of this same person throughout nada_o_nil’s journal provide strong evidence to believe so. Ultimately, the veracity of its authenticity is unimportant when discussing the marking of identity online (Hine 135Á 42). Indeed, this picture can be thought of as an avatar and, as Jenik argues, it becomes more ‘‘real’’ to the online community than the user him- or herself, hence the reviewer antioch_arrow’s comment, ‘‘Did I mention she’s pretty?’’ Additionally, the inclusion of this picture represents an effort to find the body or its ‘‘affective outline’’ (Phelan) in what Chvasta calls the ‘‘instability of the word or sign’’ in online journals (‘‘Mediated’’). It is the perceived difference between what Auslander calls the self and the character-self, a defining characteristic of performance and theatricality, that creates this desire for presence, this effort to find the body illustrated in antioch_arrow’s review.
/ / /

364 K. Lindemann

Additionally, the picture marks the post’s temporality, and with it nada_o_nil’s emotional state: she in fact looks lonely and appears to be peering out of the darkness. This reading is, of course, informed by the text, which is problematic. The text’s literary devices illustrate a labored or crafted entry rather than a quick recording of one’s experience. The picture’s lighting and framing are likely as carefully thought-out as the text. Langellier and Peterson explain that it is this ambiguity between the sincerity of the character and the narrative voice that distinguishes personal narrative as a performance; for a ‘‘good story’’ to be told, one must be insincere enough to allow for creative license (179). Interestingly, the words and the picture attempt to establish a coherent unity between corporeality and virtuality in that they seem to convey a similar mood. The picture, off-center and slightly out-of-focus, appears to be a candid shot taken at an opportune moment and heightens the temporality in the relationship of body to online text even as one may read it as fixed representation of the body and therefore part of the author’s ‘‘authentic’’ identity. This contributes to what Fenske calls an ethical, dialogic engagement by highlighting the inability of the representation to ‘‘fully capture that which is represented’’ (15). An example of a less successful online journal performance is user ufp0275. Unlike nada_o_nil’s journal, which got an ‘‘A’’ rating in Random Reviews, this journal received an ‘‘F.’’ The reviewer, pan2, does not even deem that user’s biography competent: ‘‘We get it: you’re an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, shrouded by a killme-please-I-can’t-believe-I’ve-got-to-read-this-crap’’ (pan2). As the reader encounters the homepage of ufp0275, whose author now presents himself as Curtis, the reader is greeted by several cartoon strips that could, depending on one’s Internet connection and computer processor speed, stall the loading of the page. One is also greeted by long blocks of text, which include a notice for an apartment rental, stills from the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation, and passages like this: ‘‘Well for better or worse I’m off the MC. I started on Friday (night) on the 29th, and finished up this Thursday (night) on the 4th. That clocks me in at about 6 days’’ (Curtis’ Journal ‘‘Off MC’’). Curtis continues: ‘‘stopped doing the SWF after day two, and cut the cayenne pepper right out of the drink . . . I felt that cheapened my experience with the MC and didn’t want to go on until I felt more prepared to do it the way it is written.’’ Curtis concludes with a reminder to himself to ‘‘show you the copies of the mural my Aunt Lori made in Vegas of our entire family, in her own selfcreated mural in her living room. Very kewl!’’ This post exhibits a noticeable absence of competence and artistry. Likewise, it does not access, explore, or acknowledge the tensions in the relationship between body and technology. Curtis uses no figurative language and or parallelism. Although one might argue that the anagrams ‘‘MC’’ and ‘‘SWF’’ are special codes, they are more or less inaccessible to the general reader. Curtis does not explain what the ‘‘MC’’ is (by going back to an entry on 1 December, one discovers that it is a diet called the ‘‘Master Cleanse’’) nor why Curtis had to get off it. Eventually, it becomes clear that Curtis is talking about diets, diet drinks, and diet books. Body image certainly is a theme to which many readers can relate, and an earlier post about the beginning of

Online Narrative Performance

365

his diet garners eight comments from readers (Curtis’ Journal ‘‘Almost Day 2’’). In this post, we see attempts to interrogate the author’s own body image:
Some also might be wondering how hungry I was . . . When you put yourself up to this, you discover how freaking many things are out there to pull and tug at your hunger. Like I mentioned in other posts, the number of commercials you start to notice are more than numerous. All the junk food at the work place is staggering. All the nibbling food (ESPECIALLY during the holidays) is just surreal. (Curtis’ Journal ‘‘Off MC’’)

While this post may fulfill the ‘‘promised exposure of the private and secret’’ (Steinitz 47), it is decidedly less compelling to read. In fact, it is more like a conversation, which is not characteristic of successful online narrative performances within this essay’s theoretical framework. Further, the matter-of-fact competence illustrated by the clarity in this excerpt is deflated by its length. The rest of the entry is approximately 18 paragraphs long, quite long for LiveJournal standards as it is customary to place lengthy entries behind a ‘‘cut’’ or link so readers can get the gist of an entry, rather than a mass of text, without much mouse scrolling. Just as pan2 exclaims, ‘‘We get it!’’ a reader may find him or herself similarly ‘‘talked to death.’’ Finally, while the post may address body issues, the post itself does not explore the tension between body and technology in the same way as does nada_o_nil’s. The post sidesteps recognition of the ways it falls short of representing the body. Instead, Curtis’ identity is presented as fixed, stable, and unified through a simple recitation of facts and events. As an afterthought, the author provides a link at the end to Mr. Picassohead, a site in which one can draw a picture in the style of Picasso using predrawn shapes: ‘‘Oops, one last thing: I found this kewl Picasso Head site. You can make your own and post them’’ (Curtis’ Journal ‘‘Off MC’’). Interestingly, we do not know if the picture we see when clicking on this link is intended to be a self portrait, and its placement in this post as a link hints at the deferred presence that is characteristic of online performances (Chvasta ‘‘Mediated’’; Langellier and Peterson; Turkle ‘‘Constructions’’). That a reader must work to find a ‘‘body’’ in this text speaks to the labor-intensive nature of what we may initially think of disembodied communication (Langellier and Peterson). However, the textual framing of this ‘‘self portrait’’ as an afterthought does not sufficiently problematize the body nor its relationship to the text, undercutting whatever aspiration it may have had toward artistic and communicatively competency.7 Audience Interaction and Community An examination of the interaction that accompanies each of the above entries offers insight into the ways audience and community function in an online context. In nada_o_nil’s entry, the prose is specific enough to allow one to grasp the situation about which she is writing, but not so much that a reader cannot write into the piece his or her own ‘‘agony’’ of being left ‘‘whole’’ enough to continue desiring to love. While we find out that she takes a bus and walks ‘‘two hundred and twenty steps’’ to her home, we do not find out where she lives. As an audience, we can imagine a

366 K. Lindemann

generic ‘‘city’’ and transform the author’s space into our space. Logan purports that presence of an online performer takes on different meanings when a ‘‘virtual’’ audience engages their performance. We desire the performer’s presence and, because of the ambiguity of the text and its hypertext links, we are able to transform literal absence into a virtually shared space into which we project ourselves, creating a ‘‘virtual’’ presence. nada_o_nil’s post generated sixty-five comments, compared to two responses for Curtis’ 5 December post. Many responses to nada_o_nil’s post are complimentary and validate the emotions expressed in the post. For example, breakaway286 writes, ‘‘every word rings true. i have never been able to express that into words. but you. you do it well.’’ And riffalicious writes, ‘‘How very true.’’ More interesting, however, are the responses in which users express their own experiences with such ‘‘stops.’’ Betchabye laments:
I do know how you feel . . . my life has always been like that */one stop-over after another . . . but now, i dont know. some things are changing . . . i just want to belong. have Someplace i can call home. Someone i can truly call mine. (maraming salamat muli. you just gave words to my sentiments.)

deception1225 expresses similar sentiments:
I always simply feel . . . alone. I feel as if there is no true stop for me . . . This entry made me feel incredibly sad for some reason. I guess it reminded me of the fact that I am utterly alone. I know the feeling of coming home to nothing all too well.

Both responses illustrate that this online journal entry, like the diary, becomes a ‘‘machine for the production of the memory’’ (Steinitz 43) on the part of the readers. These users invoke the language of the original post (‘‘stops’’ or ‘‘stop-overs’’) to frame their own experiences. In contrast, the conversation-like quality of Curtis’ post prompts the following response from sperlock, one of the thirteen people Curtis lists as ‘‘friends’’:
Do you know how your body fat will be measured for the position? If you calculate your BMI you may find it comes out with a different number than the scale . . . Also remember it takes calories to maintain muscle, so that lost [sic] of muscle has cost you a bit though you do not mind. Might be a good time to get some weights to work with.

This response expresses none of the affect found in those to nada_o_nil’s, likely because Curtis’ original post did not. It is not clear whether sperlock is remembering his or her own experience with a similar plan, so one cannot assess the success of the post in prompting a recall of memories. Whether the ‘‘you’’ Curtis uses in his post refers to close friends or a general audience of interested readers is not clear, though given the specificity of the information it is likely the former. Its specificity and narrow scope constrain its performance qualities. Linda Park-Fuller suggests that the most powerful narratives are those that recognize the audience as a participant in the narrative process and the interactive potential of performance (38). The lack of skill in constructing this post, and its lack of consideration for audience, fails to mark temporality in a way that invites audiences to collaborate in the meaning. In contrast,

Online Narrative Performance

367

nada_o_nil’s post, through its artistry and communicative competence, establishes an interpretive framework in which an audience both remembers and understands their own experience. The responses that comprise the audience interaction surrounding nada_o_nil’s post also inform notions of community online. Specifically, it seems that through audience interactions ‘‘social networks’’ are established (Rheingold 359). When splicer responds, ‘‘Was that my cat you heard calling?’’ in response to nada_o_nil’s line, ‘‘imagining the soft meow of a kitten I don’t have,’’ nada_o_nil asks the user to post a picture of his cat, ‘‘Ozzy,’’ which he does. nada_o_nil reponds to this picture: ‘‘My brother and I have been meaning to get a Persian kitty, perhaps before Christmas. And cool name! So like you to name a cat that!’’ The original entry provides an opportunity to create and maintain relationships through off-topic interaction, and unlike traditional stage performance the particular technological characteristics of LiveJournal allow for audience interaction that can veer off-topic while still remaining focused (at least in a response thread) on the performance. One wonders, as does Rheingold, if this Internet exchange increases the diversity of community ties and of strong, intimate relationships. On a basic level, this is an exchange between a white male in San Francisco and a woman of color in the Philippines (based on pictures that accompany their posts and user information) who have previous knowledge of each other’s lives. While the relationship may be diverse in terms of ethnicity and geography, and while the intimacy expressed by users betchabye and deception1225 is undeniable, it is not clear whether their posts constitute an intimate relationship with the author. More clear is the way the exchanges surrounding this post illustrate the dissemination of knowledge about the practice of writing artistic and communicatively competent entries on LiveJournal. When jennae comments, ‘‘I’ve been sitting on this post (have you edited it?) for awhile before commenting, so I could hope to comment something poignant, but I am at a loss,’’ nada_o_nil explains a bit about her writing process and her expectations from readers of the post: ‘‘Yes, it was only Bus Stops I posted at first. And then I added the first part. You don’t have to write anything poignant. Just knowing you appreciate it or can relate to it is wonderful enough for me. Thank you.:).’’ Similarly, theotherday offers: ‘‘this held me until the tickle [a reference in the entry]. i don’t know* i always present [sic] something pleasant about a tickle. some sort of fun or happiness. cheekyness. is lonliness cheeky?’’ nada_o_nil responds, ‘‘Hah! I don’t know if it’s cheeky, but sometimes it is overrated.;) Blame the writers. Hehe.’’ Langellier and Peterson note that it is the opportunity for calibration that in part frames online narratives as performances. These exchanges illustrate the way responses help the author calibrate his or her artistry and competency. Further, the first exchange between nada_o_nil and jennae serves to construct the practices that govern interaction on the site, illustrating the way such participation may contribute to a feeling of cohesiveness among Internet users (Soukup). Jon Katz explains: ‘‘More recent virtual communities are much more ‘virtual’ than ‘community.’ Apart from sites . . . devoted to shared problems like cancer, the modern virtual community trades in information at the expense of
/

368 K. Lindemann

intimacy.’’ If one defines community not by location or topic, but by intimacy, the responses in the exchange surrounding nada_o_nil’s post hint at the power online performances of narratives have in promoting the sharing of problems Katz believes is vital to an online community. Conclusion: New Performance Modes, New Meanings of Performance This essay frames online journals as performances whose success depends on the artistry with which they are crafted and the competency with which they invite audience response through the establishment of an interpretive frame. Their characteristics both mirror and problematize the traditional narrative form (Steinitz; Pineau). The skill and competency evident in their construction not only resonates with traditional conceptions of literary skill (Booth), but also bears the residue of verbal performances commonly studied in a context of orality (Bauman, Verbal Art). Displays of skill and competence, which also inform an understanding of presence, are enacted within and reaffirm accepted practices of LiveJournal members, enabling and sustaining a particular notion of ‘‘community.’’ These analytical insights give rise to several implications for examining performance and technology. Skill and competence in the narrative performances in online journals appear to be the primary way a sense of community is created and maintained. While many people presumably maintain online journals to keep in touch with family and friends, online journals offer the opportunity to communicate with others across the globe. To get others to read one’s entry, though, one must display artistry and competence in one’s narrative. As illustrated in nada_o_nil’s journal, it is this artistry, evidenced in the use of figurative language and special formulae, that draws other users into a conversation. Competence indicates knowledge of the rules around which such conversations are built. Competence is displayed in one’s technological savvy: long blocks of text, missing links, and graphic-heavy cartoons that may crash one’s computer when loading the user’s page indicate a lack of ‘‘the knowledge and ability to speak in socially appropriate ways’’ (Bauman, Verbal Art 11). Traditional performances, despite talk-back sessions and audience feedback, face difficulty in creating and maintaining a sense of community simply because the audience leaves and has no site to which they can return. Even with their own fleeting impermanence, online journals provide such a site. In addition to being performances for an existing audience of readers, then, skillful and competent online performance seems to create within its audience the dialogue upon which a sense of community is built. It follows that framing online communication as performance offers insight into the ways users negotiate relationships via technology. While several scholars have studied online interaction designated by its users to be performance, like Adrienne Jenik’s ‘‘desktop theatre,’’ more mundane online communication also displays characteristics of performance. Steven S. Vrooman notes that ‘‘flaming,’’ insults posted on a message board, mirror both oral and literary performances and generate terms upon which online relationships are built and terminated. A focus on literary skill and competence in online communication enables us to access the role language

Online Narrative Performance

369

plays in creating and maintaining relationships. This ‘‘formal appeal’’ of performance, including the use of figurative language, special codes and formulae, and parallelism, has the power to ‘‘transform social structure’’ (Bauman, Verbal Art 16). Additionally, positioning ethicality as a major consideration in the study of performance and technology offers a more complex consideration of presence and the body. The ethical implications of online communication (and conducting research on said communication) have been explored in depth (Hakken; Hine; Turkle ‘‘Constructions’’; Turkle Life), with most research focusing on how users and researchers portray themselves to unsuspecting others. Little research has focused on the ethical implications of reading the body online. Chvasta, examining online ‘‘rape’’ in a MOO (Multi-User Domain Object Oriented, a more complex MUD that allows the user to manipulate virtual spaces and actions more readily), concludes that text conversations in a MOO have consequences on users, despite the framing of such activity as merely theatrical (read: ‘‘merely’’ performance) by other cyberspace scholars (‘‘Screening’’). Likewise, online narrative performances matter; they are not disembodied* they implicate the bodies of the users sitting on the other side of the computer screen (Langellier and Peterson). Ethical performance online, then, is not simply a matter of whether one pretends to be someone else without providing a disclaimer. This analysis illustrates that an ethical performance of identity online is also one that acknowledges the often incongruous relationship between body and text. For to do so is to recognize the effect technology has on our bodies. Finally, this analysis prompts a consideration of the utility of traditional performance models in an online context. Logan’s assertion that ‘‘new performance spaces generate new performance modes, newer ways to make meaning’’ seems a reasonable statement to guide future performance studies scholarship. Nonetheless, this examination of narrative performance online illustrates that traditional conceptions are useful in explaining online performance. While online journals may trouble our conceptions of narrative performance, performance studies scholars should not view technological developments as ‘‘troubling.’’ Instead, we should welcome the opportunity to stretch existing theory and practice in new directions.
/

Notes
[1] Existing scholarship cited in this paper provides a plethora of terms with which to refer to self-written stories about one’s experiences (see, e.g., Chvasta ‘‘Mediated’’; Langellier and Peterson; Smith and Watson). One of the difficulties in navigating this terminology is that each carries with it a set of assumptions shaped in part by their popular use. For example, ‘‘personal narrative’’ evokes for humanities and social science scholars a set of theoretical assumptions, ‘‘autobiography’’ conjures up the idea of a published memoir that might appear on bookstore shelves, ‘‘diary’’ prompts one to imagine a private recording of thoughts in a book kept in a secret place, and ‘‘journal’’ connotes a more serious version of the diary in which one records extended thoughts, emotions, and ideas in a manner more developed than one employs in keeping a diary. Tracing these distinctions constitutes a project separate from the aims of this paper, and so I use ‘‘online journals’’ because of its use by Langellier and

370 K. Lindemann

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

Peterson to denote ‘‘journal-style weblog’’ activity online and because of its prominence in the website name ‘‘LiveJournal.’’ Langellier and Peterson do, however, distinguish between filter-style weblogs, which consist mainly of links to other sites, and journal-style weblogs, which ‘‘resemble their print and handwritten cousins’’ in formal features like the reverse chronological appearance of the most recent entry on top (160). Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson note that the relatively recent (re)emergence of the autobiography or memoir is indicative of a postmodern society in which the ‘‘unproblematic belief in the idea of true selves’’ is disappearing (7). It is in this context that I extend Steinitz’s notion that a diarist constructs multiple selves in the writing and rereading of his or her diary. In such a construction, note Smith and Watson, narrators draw on ‘‘models of identity that are culturally available’’ (9). These cultural models of narrator speak to the diarist’s awareness of audience interpretations of narrative persona, as such interpretations are likely to be made in the same cultural context. Wayne Booth traces a similar tension in fiction writing, in which an author’s skill in displaying and invoking emotion in a reader is tempered with the establishment of an aesthetic distance that still allows the reader to make social judgments about the text. Sherry Turkle writes that MUDs allow one to ‘‘present [oneself] as a ‘character,’ in which [one] can be anonymous, in which [one] can play a role or roles as close or far away from [one’s] ‘real self ’ as [one] choose[s].’’ (‘‘Constructions’’). The innovator in this area is the Desktop Theatre Company, whose experiments with avatars in these chatroom-like spaces number 25 over the past six years and include live performances where audiences view the projected screens as the performers work at the computers. Adrienne Jenik, one of the cofounders of Desktop Theatre, notes that while masks have traditionally been used to highlight the artificiality of theatre, the use of avatars does the opposite. She argues that, because masking is the way all in the online community represent themselves, avatars as masks encourage a belief in an ‘‘authentic self.’’ Communities on LiveJournal, like the several review communities mentioned in this paper, frequently appear and disappear, sometimes taken offline by the moderator(s) with little fanfare or explanation. Since the initial drafts of this paper, the Random Reviews community has been taken offline. The reviews cited here were incorporated before Random Reviews was deleted. For purposes of consistency and transparency in methods, the website addresses for the reviewers I cite, antioch_arrow and pan2, have been left as they originally appeared in initial drafts. Worth noting is that each post seems to be operating in a traditionally gendered communication pattern, with the (presumably) female user nada_o_nil self-disclosing at length about relationships and the (presumably) male user ufp0275 (Curtis) disclosing more or less factual information in a strictly and explicitly utilitarian fashion to solve a problem: sticking to his diet. Granted, Curtis is nonetheless self-disclosing a concern about body image, which may be viewed as decidedly ‘‘unmasculine.’’ This hints at a complexity in performances of gender online that have been touched on in numerous other studies (see Vrooman) and is beyond the scope of this analysis.

References
antioch_arrow. ‘‘nada_o_nil.’’ Online posting. 1 Dec. 2003. LiveJournal. 6 Dec. 2003 B/http:// www.livejournal.com/community/random_review/ /.  Auslander, Phillip. From Acting to Performance . London: Routledge, 1997. Bauman, Richard. ‘‘Performance.’’ Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments . Ed. Richard Bauman. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992. 41 Á/49. **/. Verbal Art as Performance . Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1984. /

Online Narrative Performance

371

Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of Fiction , 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983. Chvasta, Marcy. ‘‘The Mediated Life; ‘And I Loved Her.’’’ Unpublished essay, 2003. **/. ‘‘Screening Bodies: Performance and Technology.’’ performance/text/technology. (Mar. Á/Apr., / 2004). 1 Jul. 2005 B/http://www.cyberdiva.org/PTT/Marcy.html/. Curtis’ Journal. ‘‘Almost Day 2 of the MC.’’ Online posting. 1 Dec. 2003. LiveJournal. 21 Mar. 2005 B/http://www.livejournal.com/users/ufp0275/2003/12/01//. **/. ‘‘Off MC, Done With X-Mas Shopping and Misc.’’ Online posting. 5 Dec. 2003. LiveJournal. / 6 Dec. 2003 B/http://www.livejournal.com/users/ufp0275//. Diaz, Johnny. ‘‘Homeless.Com.’’ The Boston Globe . 27 Jul. 2003. A 16 Á/17. Easen, Nick. ‘‘Travel Talk: Online and Dangerous.’’ CNN.com International . 13 Oct. 2003. 4 Dec. 2003 B/http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/07/10/biz.trav.online.community//. Fenske, Mindy. ‘‘The Aesthetic of the Unfinished: Ethics and Performance.’’ Text and Performance Quarterly 24 (2004): 1 Á/19. Gourgey, Hannah, Edward B. Smith. ‘‘‘Consensual Hallucination’: Cyberspace and the Creation of an Interpretive Community.’’ Text and Performance Quarterly 16 (1996): 233 Á/47. Hakken, David. Cyborgs@Cyberspace?: An Ethnographer Looks to the Future . London: Routledge, 1999. Hine, Christine. Virtual Ethnography. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000. Jenik, Adrienne. ‘‘Desktop Theatre: Keyboard Catharsis and the Masking of Roundheads.’’ The Drama Review 45.3 (2001): 95 Á/112. Katz, Jon. ‘‘Rethinking the Virtual Community: Part One.’’ Online posting. 21 Dec. 2000. Slashdot. 22 Mar. 2005 B/http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid 0/00/12/15/166257&tid 0/126 & tid 0/9/. Langellier, Kristin M. ‘‘Personal Narrative, Performance, Performativity: Two or Three Things I Know for Sure.’’ Text and Performance Quarterly 19 (1999): 125 Á/44. LiveJournal. ‘‘FAQ Question #56.’’ Online posting. LiveJournal. 2 Dec. 2003 B/http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=56/. **/. ‘‘Statistics.’’ Online posting. LiveJournal. 2 Dec. 2003 B/http://www.livejournal.com/ / stats.bml/. Langellier, Kristin M., and Eric E. Peterson. Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative . Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2004. Logan, Christie. ‘‘Presence and Absence in Online Performance: Configurations in the Problematics of Access.’’ American Communication Journal 6.3 (2003). 18 Jun. 2003 B/http://www. acjournal.org/holdings/vol6/iss3/responses/logan.htm/. Markham, Annette M. Life Online: Researching Real Experience in Virtual Space . Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1998. nada_o_nil. ‘‘Stops.’’ 8 Dec. 2003. Online posting. LiveJournal. 8 Dec. 2003. B/http://www. livejournal.com/users/nada_o_nil//. pan2. Rev. of ufp0275. 4 Nov. 2003. Online posting. LiveJournal. 6 Dec. 2003 B/http:// www.livejournal.com/community/random_review//. Park-Fuller, Linda. ‘‘Performing Absence: The Staged Personal Narrative as Testimony.’’ Text and Performance Quarterly 20 (2000): 20 Á/42. Phelan, Peggy. Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories . London: Routledge, 1997. Pineau, Elyse Lamm. ‘‘A Mirror of Her Own: Anais Nin’s Autobiographical Performances.’’ Text and Performance Quarterly 12 (1992): 97 Á/112. Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2000. Rodzvilla, John, ed. We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs are Changing Our Culture . Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002. scrungew00t. ‘‘25th November 2003.’’ 25 Nov. 2003. Online posting. LiveJournal. 2 Dec. 2003 B/http://www.livejournal.com/users/scrungew00t//.

372 K. Lindemann

Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. Introduction. Getting a Life: Everyday Uses of Autobiography. Ed. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. Soukup, Charles. ‘‘Multimedia Performance in a Computer-Mediated Community: Communication as a Virtual Drama.’’ 19 Mar. 2005 B/http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol9/issue4/soukup. html/. Steinitz, Rebecca. ‘‘Writing Diaries, Reading Diaries: The Mechanics of Memory.’’ The Communication Review 2 (1997): 43 Á/58. Turkle, Sherry. ‘‘Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs.’’ 6 Dec. 2003 B/http://web.mit.edu/sturkle/www/constructions.html/. **/. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of Internet . New York: Simon & Schuster. / Vrooman, Steven S. ‘‘The Art of Invective: Performing Identity in Cyberspace.’’ New Media and Society 4.1 (2002): 51 Á/70. White, Dave. ‘‘The Gay Blogging Revolution.’’ The Advocate . 8 Jul. 2003: 25.