There is the question of whether cyberspace is even "real" and therefore worthy of study. To most participators chatrooms are real created space. People are able to express ideas, ask questions, and make arrangements to meet in the physical. There have been the same experiences gained within the chatroom environment as there would be if people were at a meeting, party or at any social gathering; “chatrooms are suitable places for developing the self socially, mentally and culturally, as well as shaping the character traits of the self.” (Teo Soo Yee) Virtual communities can be as important to those who visit the same chatrooms as any community in RL (Real Life) would be. There are an ever-expanding amount of online essays, which discuss virtual communities. Many of these essays will be cited in this literature review and as I find more they will be listed at: http://se.unisa.edu.au/vc~essays.html. As I am investigating linguistic patterns in chatroom ‘speech’ exchanges I am not overly concerned with who exchanges meaning, i.e. what role the person is playing and whether it is ‘he or she’ ‘talking’ or a made up identity, but how meaning is exchanged.
This thesis proposes that through the interactive forms of the day society changes. The more accessible communication is to all the quicker ideas can be exchanged. Through the exchange of ideas and information we become better informed and we are able to make decisions, which affect not only ourselves but also the world in which we live. It is within an analysis of how ‘chatrooms’ as the latest form of communication ‘works’ or does not ‘work’ that I will explore electronic conversation as a force of social change.