Computer-mediated communication and college student development: A discussion of the Internet's potential impact using lesbian, gay, and bisexual students as examples

Andrew J. Hedges, © Copyright, 1995

Seminar paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Education degree in Counseling and Personnel Services at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Seminar Paper Advisor: Dr. Greig Stewart

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Computer-Mediated Communication
  3. Research Implications
  4. Student Affairs and the Internet
  5. Conclusions
  6. References
  7. Appendix A: Glossary of Internet Related Terms
  8. Appendix B: LGB Resources on the Internet
  9. Appendix C: Student Affairs Resources on the Internet


Students are on-line. According to one report, people between the ages of 18 and 26 comprise 40% (Thorell, 1994) of the 48 million (Lottor, 1995) users of the Internet, a global, interactive network of computers. Over 11 million of all users log on from educational institutions (Lottor). Currently, no research exists that addresses the potential student development impact of this participation.

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) consists of the exchange of text, data, images, or sound across a computer or a network of computers (Rheingold, 1993). Using services such as electronic mail (e-mail), Usenet News, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Gopher, and the World-Wide-Web (WWW) (see Appendix A for definitions) it is possible to communicate instantly with people around the world. Rheingold describes a unique feature of the "virtual communities" that form across this medium; they form based on members having similar interests rather than geographical proximity.

Just as "real life" communities, such as those found on a college campus, have an impact on a student's development, virtual communities may be having a similar effect. This paper initiates discussion in two specific areas: effects of Internet participation on student development, using lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students as examples; and the role of student affairs in promoting and shaping developmental effects. Several questions will be raised for future research.

Computer Mediated Communication

There is a large LGB presence on the Internet. Hundreds of forums exist for discussion on topics of interest to LGB people. The relative anonymity of CMC may allow LGB people a safe way to connect with one another. Mailing lists, Usenet Newsgroups, WWW and Gopher servers, and channels on the IRC constitute only a few of the options available to a gay person who wants to converse with other gay people or learn about gay culture. The following is a description of how some of these resources might be contributing to the identity development of the lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who use them. The fact that there exist so many resources suggests that gay people find these resources beneficial. Addresses for accessing the resources mentioned in this section are located in Appendix B.

Internet Relay Chat

The types of resources available vary in terms of the level of interactivity they offer. The most highly interactive is the IRC. On IRC one "chats" with other users on topical "channels". IRC is a forum for communicating with multiple others "in real time" in that users type at their terminal and the message is instantly broadcast to other users. One IRC search for the word "gay" turned up 49 separate channels (see Appendix B). Of potential significance to LGB identity formation is that one can assume a semi-anonymous identity on IRC. Users have control over what is displayed as their nickname and, to a lesser extent, what is displayed when others query the service for more personal information.

Mailing Lists and Usenet News

The next most highly interactive Internet services are electronic mailing lists and Usenet Newsgroups. Mailing lists and Usenet News share the characteristic of users posting messages for other subscribers to read. Subscribers are then free to respond to the message, thereby creating "threads" of dialogue. This exchange typically takes place on the order of days in contrast to IRC's immediacy. These dialogues have the potential to be very rich because they can be focused; they can involve people from very broad to very specific audiences and one can enter the thread in the middle and catch up on all that has been said previously before adding to the conversation. Because a newsgroup audience is typically less restricted than a mailing list, its conversations are more often centered around debate. Mailing lists are more likely to be forums for support and information dissemination.

As examples, there are mailing lists for LGB people of color, for LGB people with disabilities, for LGB student groups to share information, for informing the LGB community about political activities, and for bisexuals. There are newsgroups for supporting gay youth, examining the politics of homosexuality, and discussing AIDS, bisexuality, and LGB culture. One study of a particular mailing list, GayNet, reported that the list served to disseminate information, promote activism, and provide personal support for participants (Braddlee, 1993).

World-Wide-Web and Gopher

The least interactive forums on the Internet are WWW and Gopher servers. These services are designed for information dissemination. Three of the hundreds of resources on the WWW include the Queer Infoservers page, the Queer Resources Directory, and the University of Maryland inforM's Sexual Orientation Database.

The Queer Infoservers page lists links to hundreds of Web resources by subject matter, including arts and culture, colleges and universities, e-mail lists, netnews groups and IRC, FTP sites, health and HIV/AIDS, home pages of people "out" on the Internet, organizations, publications, The Queer Resources Directory, regional resource sites, transgender and transsexual resources, general and miscellaneous sites, and general women's sites.

The Queer Resources Directory lists the following as the topics on which they provide information or links to information: family and coming out, queer youth, queers and religion, health and sexuality issues, electronic resources, queer media, queer events, queer culture, history and origins, worldwide queer info, business, legal and workplace issues, politics, political news and activism, organizations, and directories and newsletters.

The sexual orientation database at the University of Maryland, College Park, lists as their offerings announcements, bibliographies, calls for papers, conferences, electronic forums, film reviews, government and politics, on-campus resources, other Gophers, a reading room, and syllabi from classes at the University devoted to lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues.

Homosexual Identity Formation and CMC

Cass (1979) proposes six stages of homosexual identity development, each requiring the resolution of incongruencies in the individual's "intrapersonal matrix;" comprised of one's perceptions of self, their behavior, and other's responses to them. The six stages are (1) identity confusion, one's first awareness of homosexual thoughts, feelings, or behaviors; (2) identity comparison, the task of coping with the alienation resulting from a tentative commitment to homosexuality; (3) identity tolerance, characterized by one first seeking out homosexual contacts; (4) identity acceptance, involving normalization of homosexuality; (5) identity pride, characterized by a polarized view of homosexuals (positive) and heterosexuals (negative); and (6) identity synthesis, where homosexuality becomes one of several aspects of identity rather than the only relevant characteristic. At each stage of the model, individuals may stop developing (identity foreclosure) or progress to the next stage.

Identity Confusion.

In this first stage, the individual is struggling with the question, "Who am I?" (Cass, 1979). On forums such as support-oriented mailing lists and newsgroups, a common question that gets posted is to the effect, "This is what I did/thought/felt. What does it mean? Am I gay?" On these forums, devoid of face-to-face contact, semi-anonymous strangers may be more likely to give their honest opinion or even encourage the person to think of themselves as gay. If the person posting the question receives affirmative responses, this is likely to increase the sense of incongruence between the individual's self-perception as a heterosexual and the perception of the behavior, thought, or feeling as homosexual.

Because of the relative anonymity of the medium, a person might feel more comfortable experimenting with a gay identity on the Internet. On IRC, where the feedback is instant, this would provide a safe way to feel some of what it is like to be gay without alienating oneself from significant "real-life" others. Additionally, resources on the Web and Gopher are no-risk ways to gain information about homosexuality and being gay.

Identity Comparison.

In this stage, one accepts the fact that they may be gay. This often leads to feelings of alienation. The individual then makes a choice to reduce this feeling of isolation either by seeking out supportive gay people or by inhibiting homosexual behaviors. Cass (1979) says that factors such as geographical or social isolation may heighten feelings of alienation.

Use of the Internet can overcome these factors. The global nature of the Internet means that a person with access to the network has access to all its resources no matter where, geographically, they are in the world. Also, subscribing to a newsgroup, mailing list, or IRC channel gives one instant membership in a receptive social group. Cass also points out that membership in particular reference groups may exacerbate or diminish feelings of incongruency. On the Internet, users have complete control as to which groups they belong, unlike in real life. Joining a pro-gay forum will have a very different effect than joining an anti-gay forum. All of the Internet resources referred to in this paper are pro-gay except for those Usenet newsgroups that are unmoderated. These forums often receive homophobic postings.

If one increasingly chooses to associate with LGB groups, the sense of incongruency between their self-concept and how others are thought to perceive them increases. This will lead to progression to the next stage of development. One downside of participation in CMC at this stage may be that because one is able to join these forums while easily maintaining a heterosexual public image, they may actually experience less incongruence, potentially leading to identity foreclosure.

Identity Tolerance.

At this stage, individuals experience the consequences of an increased commitment to being homosexual. They often feel a heightened sense of incongruency between the way they views themselves and the way others are believed to view them. To reduce the resulting alienation, they often turn to increased contact with LGB people and culture. The Internet provides a way to tap a plethora of people and resources in the LGB community. Sources such as the Queer Resources Directory provide links to hundreds of sites with information about all aspects of LGB culture as listed in the preceding section. As a non-interactive forum, this provides a non-threatening way to gain information about LGB culture.

As mentioned before, mailing lists and newsgroups also offer discussions of topics important to the LGB community. Cass (1979) says that a more important factor than the quantity of contact with the gay community is the perceived emotional quality of that contact. Considering the diversity of people's personal preferences, the Internet will not be the most positive way for everyone to receive quality contact. It may be a more friendly forum, though, to introverted people, people physically isolated from the gay community, and people who do not wish to be exposed as gay in public life. Exposure to the gay community allows the individual to see the potentially rewarding aspects of being gay. At the same time, the person becomes aware of the negative possibilities of this contact. Accessing gay culture through the Internet serves to minimize some of the negative aspects, such as the possibility of being exposed as gay in public life.

Identity Acceptance.

In this stage, individuals continue to increase contact with other gay people. They are able to say, "I am gay." The LGB forums on the Internet allow individuals to become as involved and active as they desire. One can become a frequent and known contributor to mailing lists, newsgroups, and IRC channels. One can also publish information about their experience as a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person on the Web. On several of the LGB forums, there are outspoken people who believe in the philosophy of full legitimization. This is the belief that one should disclose one's homosexuality in both the personal and public realms. To the extent that computer-mediated interactions encourage this philosophy, they can create incongruency and tension that are resolved by progression to the next developmental stage.

Identity Pride.

In this stage, individuals feel the incongruency between a self-concept as totally acceptable and society's general rejection of the legitimacy of homosexuality. To cope with this, they tend to adopt a dichotomized view of heterosexuals as insignificant and discredited and homosexuals as significant and creditable. This is typically followed by the person immersing her/himself in gay culture and taking a more activist stance toward gay issues.

There are several forums that deal with political and social activism such as the mailing lists ACT-UP and ACTION-ALERT. ACT-UP is the mailing list for the politically active gay pride group of the same name. ACTION-ALERT is primarily for postings of situations that require action on the part of the gay community to preserve or gain equal rights and liberties. There are also newsgroups that deal with similar topics. Bit.listserv.gaynet frequently has postings similar to those on ACTION-ALERT. Alt.politics.homosexuality is generally about the politics of gay rights and is characterized by heated debates on the topic.

Where individuals in this stage encounter positive reactions to gay pride and disclosure of their gay identity on the Internet, this will create an incongruency between the observed behavior and their concept of heterosexuals as discredited that can lead to the final stage of development.

Identity Synthesis.

People in this stage understand that the previously held dichotomy of a completely negative view of heterosexuals and a completely positive view of homosexuals is not accurate. As one continues to experience positive interactions with supportive heterosexuals, they build trust in them and further devalue unsupportive heterosexuals. In this stage, one's homosexuality becomes one of several facets rather than the only relevant aspect of the personality. Currently there is not a large, visible presence of supportive heterosexuals on the Internet, although one mailing list, PFLAG-TALK, exists for parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays.

Cass (1979) emphasizes that the gay person has to take an active role in her/his own development. As has been outlined, the resources exist on the Internet to help the individual progress through most, but not all, of the stages. It also suggests the possibility that intentional Internet interventions, such as creating a high visibility, pro-gay, heterosexual presence, could have a positive impact on LGB identity development.

Research Implications

CMC holds possibilities for the development of homosexual identity. Other areas that may be affected by CMC are cognitive/moral development and psychosocial development. Currently, people in the United States participate at unequal levels in the technology based on race, gender, and socio-economic status. What follows is a discussion of suggestions for future research around these issues.

CMC and Homosexual Identity Formation

A possible methodology for assessing the impact of Internet access on the identity development of lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students would be to randomly select a large group of entering students and conduct a pre-test on them to assess their level of Sexual Identity Formation. Deny one group access to the Internet; give one group access to the Internet without training; and give a third group access to the Internet with training on where to find resources including gay forums. Assess these groups again in their eighth semester and compare the results with the pre-test.

A more practical study would consist of using subjects who self-report as gay. Assess where the subjects fall on Cass' (1979) model. Give one subgroup access to the Internet and training on where to find gay forums while making no intervention with the other group. After one year, compare the amount of change in the level of development in each group and their frequency of Internet use. This study has the drawback of not including those students who may not yet be aware of their homosexuality or who are at the very initial stages of awareness.

A third methodology would consist of a qualitative study of self-reporting gay, Internet using students. The researcher would ask the subjects about their experiences on the Internet and how they believed their participation in the medium helped or hindered their development. This could be the most useful study because it would provide information on how the medium is actually used and may offer insights to guide developmental interventions.

CMC and Cognitive/Moral Development

Cognitive and moral development as conceptualized by Perry (1970) and Kohlberg (1971) are enhanced by exposure to higher levels of reasoning. The concept of "plus-one modeling" refers to challenging a person to think in terms of the next higher stage of development. Some Usenet Newsgroups and mailing lists are characterized by heated debates. These exchanges can be well reasoned, but just as often deteriorate into sophomoric "flame wars" characterized by aggressive, anti-social behavior. Usenet users encounter every imaginable viewpoint. Additionally, one's choices when posting to this forum can be met with harsh community retributions if they are outside the community's standards. One retribution is being added to people's "killfiles." This is the ultimate Internet punishment; once added to a killfile, one's messages are not seen. If enough people excommunicate a person in this way, their existence on Usenet becomes decidedly un-interactive.

A study on this medium could focus on whether the exposure to diverse viewpoints might push students to higher levels of reasoning. Also, the swift and sure retribution that comes from breaches of "netiquette" may cause increased consideration of the consequences of one's actions. Again, a study could consist of a pre- and post-test with controls on whether the participants have access to Usenet and mailing lists.

An example of a project supporting the notion of cognitive development on the Internet was "Comp-U-Talk", an experiment that infused writing across the curriculum through e-mail and electronic conferences (Hughes, Ladinsky, & Galica, 1993). Faculty noted that over the course of their involvement, participants came to better appreciate diverse perspectives and improved their writing by modeling that of their classmates. The first effect may indicate progress from dualistic to multiplistic ways of thinking. The second effect indicates peer learning; an important component of higher levels of Perry's (1970) theory of cognitive development.

Much has been written about the potential and observed benefits of student contact with faculty (Chickering, 1969; Astin, 1984; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Chickering hypothesizes that frequent student-faculty interaction fosters development of intellectual competence, sense of competence, autonomy, and purpose. Pascarella and Terrenzini observed changes in the following areas associated with high levels of student-faculty interaction: occupational values, value attached to a liberal education, and educational attainment.

Questions to begin asking related to CMC and student-faculty interactions are (a) does interaction on e-mail or newsgroups constitute "contact", (b) can computer-mediated interactions supplant or should they supplement face-to-face interactions with faculty, and (c) what is the quality of this type of contact, in other words, are computer-mediated interactions more like a formal office visit or like a barbecue at the professor's house? A study could be conducted involving two sections of a required first-year student course where one section is given access to the professor via electronic mail, encouraged to use it and the other section is not given access. Differences in course attainment as well as values related to the outcomes noted by Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) could be measured.

CMC and Psychosocial Development

The IRC is a fluid, dynamic social environment. Some channels are organized around topics and word games, but most are largely unstructured. The interactions on IRC are characterized by small talk, ritual social interactions, and introductions. IRC holds the possibility of semi-anonymous social interaction. Users have control of their nickname, the word that others see preceding any statements made to the channel. Consequently, much posing goes on. Men pose as women to attract attention, women as men to deflect attention, and, unlike face-to-face interactions, people of color or with disabilities have control whether others know of their differences. This is the forum to which it is often reported that college students become "addicted." This suggests that this population, which is predominantly struggling with the task of developing identity, finds some reward in its participation.

A study of the impact of this medium could center around whether participation in it contributes to or hinders development of social competence, interpersonal relationships, identity development, and development of interdependence.

CMC Across Gender, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status

A topic that warrants scrutiny is whether the structures of the on-line environment--structures largely constructed by white, male, scientists and engineers--is a welcoming one for the increasing numbers of people of color and women choosing to explore it. One survey described the demographics of the WWW, the largest Internet service, as 90% men and 87% white (Maier, 1995). Related to the student development questions should be an examination of whether the impact of the Internet varies by race or gender. Is it a relief or a frustration to people of color that others are not initially aware of their differences? What steps can be taken to increase the comfort of diverse groups with the technology?

One study of the prevalence of computers at comparable predominantly white and predominantly Black colleges found a large discrepancy in favor of the white institutions (Kreuzer, 1993). Any study of identity development on the Internet must include controls for race and ethnicity. Studies should also be conducted using models of racial identity development such as Minority Identity Development (Atkinson, Morten, & Sue, 1983), Black racial identity development (Cross, 1971), and White racial identity development (Helms, 1990).

According to one article, the rural poor face the greatest barriers to using the Internet (Cornell & Franklin, 1994). This may mean that students from this background will have had the least exposure to the Internet. Thought should be given to the implications of this fact and what interventions, if any, should be made on behalf of this population. Serious consideration needs to be focused on whether the Internet will simply reinforce the current racial and socio-economic power structures.

Much has been written in the popular media about why women are not participating in the same numbers as men in the on-line environment. Newsweek (Tannen, 1994; Kantrowitz, 1994) and the Washington Post (Span, 1994; Maier, 1995) have both run high profile articles on the experience of women on-line. Span notes, "The thing about cyberspace is that although sometimes it feels like a sophisticated graduate seminar or a good-natured pub, it can also, for women, feel like a walk past a construction site or a wrong turn down a dark street." Span goes on to describe the culture of the Internet as anti-authoritarian, libertarian, resistant to rules, controls, and restrictive codes, with a clubhouse atmosphere, and characterized by no-holds-barred arguments and aggressive put-downs (Span, 1994). Resnick (1995) found that women on the Internet want their own virtual communities and that many favor get-tough policies on "flaming." The average ratio of men to women on the three biggest on-line services is about 4 to 1 (Kantrowitz, 1994).

It is worth examining the experience of women on-line in terms of the framework proposed by Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule (1986). One might hypothesize that women who feel they are not capable of producing knowledge (Belenky, et. al) will feel shut out of the on-line world, while women who have found a balance between intuition and rationality (Belenky, et. al) might have more positive experiences.

Student Affairs and the Internet

To fully understand the student affairs imperative to understand the effect of Internet use on student outcomes, we must also understand the level of participation and technological understanding of professionals themselves. Lack of familiarity with the medium will find student affairs professionals ill-equipped to advise, counsel, mediate, and adjudicate student concerns arising from it. They will also have little understanding of the impact CMC has on students' development and consequently how to use CMC in promoting individual and interpersonal growth.

Understanding the Internet is crucial for the student affairs profession to stay in touch with the student experience. Students will bring increasing numbers of issues to the offices of student affairs professionals from the Internet. CMC will have an impact on student development as it continues to constitute more of their environment. The Internet also has the potential to be an inexpensive way (both in terms of time and money) to make important information available to both students and staff.

Some Preliminary Findings

Based on some rather unscientific measures, the following conclusions can be made about the use of the Internet by student affairs professionals. Electronic mail is the Internet service of choice (Hedges, 1995). All of the respondents to a query posted to several electronic mailing lists and a Usenet Newsgroup concurred that e-mail is the Internet tool student affairs professionals find most useful in daily practice. Forty-four percent of National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) members have registered e-mail addresses with the organization (Kruger, 1995). Use of e-mail has also expanded significantly in the past year. One measure of this use is the growth of student affairs mailing lists. For example, STU-DEV, a mailing list devoted to the broad topic of college student development, experienced rapid growth in its first two years. According to Scot Lingrell (1995), list owner, after the first year the list boasted about 300 participants. As of June 8, 1995 (just 10 months later) the list had 658 participants. Some of this growth can be attributed to increased awareness of the list in the profession, but many of the people on the list, when introducing themselves to other participants, report that they are new to the Internet.

Interest in other forms of technology is also on the rise. Program offerings from the last three national conferences of NASPA and the Association of College Personnel Administrators (ACPA), reflect a marked rise in the number of programs dealing with technology. NASPA increased from two programs involving technology in 1993 to seventeen in 1994. The number of programs with technology as a major topic at ACPA doubled from 1994 to 1995, from seven to fourteen. While the growth in interest in technology is encouraging, it must be realized that of the 48 programs presented at these national conferences in the last three years, 37 were related to the subject of how-to implement computer related technologies. Only three programs directly addressed implications of students' use of the technology. The remaining eight programs dealt with organizational implications.

An area that should see tremendous growth in the coming year is the use of the WWW for disseminating and gathering information. The web is the fastest growing segment of the Internet. In the past two years, web traffic across the Internet "backbone" has increased from the 28th largest service to the largest service, commanding more than a fifth of all Internet traffic (NSFNET, 1993; 1995). Interest in the web on the part of student affairs professionals is high based on the response to an offer posted to several student affairs mailing lists and a newsgroup of a web page template. In just a few days after the offer of the template, more than 50 requests were received. Many of the respondents reported being on committees charged to place departmental information on the web. Many offices in the areas of residence life, student activities, and career development currently have web pages (see Appendix C). The web is uniquely suited to disseminating information to current, prospective, and former students. Schools currently have on-line admissions forms and on-line housing applications. Also on-line are virtual campus tours complete with pictures, sound, and even video. As of January, 1995, 465 colleges and universities around the world had computers connected to the WWW (Fisher, 1995)

Current Barriers

Although more student affairs professionals are beginning to use the Internet, several barriers remain. For some professionals, the technology is unavailable either because their institution does not have a connection to the Internet or does not make access to computer networks a priority for departments outside engineering and the sciences. Others find Internet technology cognitively intimidating or stylistically impersonal. One professional commented that the lack of immediate non-verbal feedback keeps her from feeling completely comfortable with it (Duffy, 1995). From a very practical standpoint, some do not have time to learn the protocols. Others may feel that the amount of information available is overwhelming or unnecessary and so resist learning about it.


The Internet may be having an effect on the psychosocial, cognitive, and moral development of students. Many students have chosen to make computer-mediated communication a significant part of their daily environment. Many more are finding it integrated into their coursework. Currently almost nothing is known about the impact of this participation on students' academic and intellectual growth, even less about psychosocial or moral development. Research is needed on the topic to determine whether or not and what types of impact this participation is having.

Possible areas of impact include cognitive and psychosocial development. Due to the large number of LGB resources on the Internet, one potential area of impact could be on the identity development of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. Given the potential outcomes, of immediate concern is an examination of CMC accessibility across race, gender, and socio-economic status. To begin, researchers should include questions about one's use of technology through admissions and exit surveys. This will begin to build a longitudinal dataset allowing researchers to observe correlations between Internet use and other variables.

Student affairs is awakening to the Internet as a tool for professional consultation, student development, and the delivery of services. E-mail is currently the service of choice and is expanding rapidly. The WWW is also on the verge of popular expansion as offices, departments, and whole divisions create pages to reach prospective, current, and former students.

The Internet has the potential to change not just student affairs practice, but the entire higher education experience. It is imperative that the profession become involved in shaping its future. This will only happen through expanded involvement in the medium and rigorous study of its impact.


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Appendix A: Glossary of Internet Related Terms

(Excerpted from

(Because It's Time Network) -- A network of educational sites separate from the Internet, but e-mail is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. Listservs, the most popular form of e-mail discussion groups, originated on BITNET. BITNET machines are IBM VMS machines, and the network is probably the only international network that is shrinking.
A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.
A client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources.
See also: Mosaic, URL, WWW
Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer, the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.
(Electronic Mail) -- Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses (Mailing List)
See also: Listserv, Mailing list
A widely successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet. Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it is being largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are still thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while.
See also: WWW, Hypertext
(HyperText Markup Language) -- The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is "linked" to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web Client program, such as Mosaic.
See also: HTTP, Hypertext, Mosaic, WWW
(HyperText Transport Protocol) -- The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).
See also: WWW
Generally, any text that contains "links" to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.
(Internet Relay Chat) -- Basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a "channel" and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private channels can (and are) created for multi-person "conference calls".
Internet (upper case I)
The vast collection of inter-connected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60's and early '70s. The Internet now (Nov. 1994) connects roughly 30,000 independent networks into a vast global internet.
See also: internet (lower case i)
internet (lower case i)
Any time you connect two or more networks together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state.
The most common kind of mailing list , Listervs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet
See also: BITNET, E-mail, Mailing list
Mailing list
A (usually automated) system that allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the mailing list. In this way, people who have many different kinds of e-mail access can participate in discussions together.
See also: Listserv
The best known and most widespread WWW browser or client software. The source-code to Mosaic has been licensed by several companies and there are several other pieces of software as good or better than Mosaic.
See also: Browser, WWW
Any time you connected two or more computers together so that they can share resources you have a computer network. Connect two or more networks together and you have an internet.
See also: Internet, internet
The name for discussion groups on Usenet.
See also: Usenet
(Uniform Resource Locator) -- The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A URL looks like this:
The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a WWW browser program, such as Netscape, or Lynx.
See also: WWW, browser
A world-wide system of discussion groups, with comments passed among hundreds of thousands of machines. Not all Usenet machines are on the Internet , maybe half. Usenet is completely decentralized, with over 10,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.
WWW (World Wide Web)
Two meanings -- First, loosely used: The whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, Usenet, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers ) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files etc. to be mixed together.
See also: Browsers, Gopher, HTTP, URL

Appendix B: LGB Resources on the Internet

What follows is a partial list of Internet resources dealing with topics of interest to gay people and the gay community. A comprehensive list of gay Internet resources is available by electronic mail from Phillip Mason at <>.

World-Wide-Web Resources

Queer Infoservers
Queer Resources Directory
Univesity of Maryland inforM's Sexual Orientation Database

Usenet Newsgroups

(From gopher://


Mailing Lists

(Excerpted from

Listname: Act-Up Discussion
Listowner: Unknown
Subscribe-via: Act-Up Request
Administriva: Act-Up Request

To subscribe, contact

Listowner:David Casti
Subscribe-via:Majordomo List Manager
Administriva:David Casti

To subscribe, send mail to containing only: subscribe ACTION-ALERT YourFirstName YourLastName

Listname:Bisexuality Discussion
Listowner:Bill Sklar
Administriva:Bill Sklar

To subscribe, send mail to containing only:

subscribe BISEXU-L YourFirstName YourLastName

CLGSG-L: Coalition of Lesbian/Gay Student Groups Discussion List

To subscribe, send mail to containing only:

subscribe CLGSG-L

GLBPOC: Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual People of Color
Subscribe-via:GLBPOC Request
Administriva:GLBPOC Request

To subscribe, contact

LIVING: Lesbians and Bi Women With Disabilities
Listowner:Dorsie Hathaway
Subscribe-via:Majordomo List Manager
Administriva:Living Request

To subscribe, contact

PFLAG-TALK: Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Discussion List
Subscribe-via:Majordomo List Manager

To subscribe, send mail to containing only:

subscribe PFLAG-TALK

Listname:Queer Campus
Subscribe-via:Majordomo List Manager

To subscribe, send mail to containing only:


Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Because of the fluid nature of the IRC, it is impossible to list channels and say that they will definitely exist when the user logs on. However, it is possible on most IRC servers to search for channels with particular words in the name by using the command /list *word*. What follows are the channels that were listed when searches were run on the words "gay," "lesb," and "bi" from the server on June 4, 1995 between 8:15 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. EST.

#bifem #gayrape #gayphilly #gayVA #gayfla
#bifemsex #gayasian #gayteense #gayfistfu #gaychgo
#biwomen #GayYouth #fingay #gays4gust #gaydc
#lesbo #mngay #gayteenpi #gaysm #OZgay
#lesbfr #gaymuscle #gay #gayNYC #gay40+
#gaynj #gayjocks #gayfr #gayteengi #gayboston
#gaychubby #GayColora #gayhelp #gaychat #gayP'town
#gayjo #gaysf #gayPHX #younggay
#gayitalia #gayboys #gaymich
#gaybdsm #swegayboy #gayLA #gayuncut #gaysex
#gayteensex #gayboysex #gayky

Appendix C: Student Affairs Resources on the Internet

What follows is a sampling of the resources available on the Internet for student affairs professionals. This list is by no means comprehensive. An excellent starting point for discovering more resources is the list of Internet resources maintained by David Shinn of Southern Illinois University, listed first under World-Wide-Web and Gopher sites.

World-Wide-Web and Gopher Sites

David Shinn's <> list of Internet Resources for Student Affairs
Stuart Brown's <> list of Listservs for Student Affairs
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Home pages of student affairs professionals
Residence Life and Housing Home Pages
Student Union home pages
The Catapult (Career Development Resources)
ACPA Commission IX Clearinghouse of Assessment Instruments
Student Governments Around the World
Fraternity and Sorority Web Sites
Universities around the world

Usenet Newsgroups

Mailing Lists

(Excerpted from

Desc:Coll.& Univ.Housing Officers Int.
Address:listserv@psuvm.bitnet or
Desc:For advisers, consultants and other User Services
Desc:African-Americans in Higher Education. Forum for African-American faculty, staff, and graduate students. One objective is to address "Goals 2000: Educate America Act."
Owner:Leah Robinson of
Desc:Assessment methods in higher education
Address:listserv@ukcc.bitnet or
Desc:Co-op and placement services network
Desc:Community Colleges discussion list
Desc:Issues dealing with Commuter students
Note:Uses a "listproc"
Desc:College Student Personnel Discussion
Desc:Commission IV of ACPA discussion list: "Students, their activities and their community"
Subscribe:sub comiv-l userid@internet.address fname lname
Note:Unconventional message for subscribing.
Desc:Housing and Residence Life discussion list
Note:Unconventional addressing for subscribing.
Desc:Disability support services in higher education discussion
Desc:First year experience discussion
Desc:Association of International Educators.
Desc:Job, career advisors, educators (no job listing)
Desc:Student Judicaial Affairs discussion list
Desc:Discussion of Leadership, in all its aspects
Desc:Educators involved in any aspects of Multiculural issues
Desc:Student Learing Imperative (of ACPA) discussion
Desc:General student development discussion
Desc: For student leaders and those who work with student leaders.
Desc:For discussions of technology in student affairs

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Because of the fluid nature of IRC, it is impossible to list any channels that pertain specifically to student affairs or higher education. However, it is important for student affairs professionals to understand what it is like to participate on real-time chat systems. The following World-Wide-Web address allows users to connect to a version of IRC, known as the "Undernet":