The next day, boredatbulter.com had over two thousand messages.
Since that day, the "bored at" idea for anonymous web forums has spread to 26 separate institutions of higher education, including Brown, where the name of the forum has changed from boredattherock.com to boredatbrown.com. The entire community recently acquired a central splash page for these functions that is called, somewhat ironically, boredat.com.
I would like to examine the "bored at" phenomenon within the framework of Barry Wellman's "Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism," Bruce Robbin's introdcution to "Comparative Cosmopolitanisms," and Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities." Each text has something to bare on the conception of networked individualism and the sort of motivating forces that could enable an internet meme like the "bored at" phenomenon.
In particular, I would like to apply Wellman's own opening questions to the concept of the "boredat" internet community. As he asks,
- Do people communicate more because the Internet offers them the capability to contact people at a distance?
- How do people use their networks, social communication, and computer access information at home, work and leisure?
- What sense of belonging to communities do networked people have?"
It would seem obvious that the discussion and/or existence of the site's forum creates a sort of community. Nicknames, abbreviations, and inside terms denote the site's users as already partially networked. In this way, the site functions as a manifestation of pre-existing community, but one that mediates itself through online space, and wears the mask of anonymity.
In researching this project, I hope to both note the rise and fall of the trend, as the site has certainly lost steam at Brown, the switch of domain names, from boredattherock to boredatbrown, and finally, to examine the use of the forum at other schools. Additionally, I would like to examine the traffic of these sites, sifting out traffic from within a university network to posts from outside, and to consider Bruce Robbins' "belonging, being situated, being specific" considerations in the world of boredat.com.