Note: this version of the paper does not include the accompanying slide show. If readers are interested, I will send them the.ppt file of the slideshow as an email attachment. Since May 1997 I have been studying a new form of digital art on IRC, or Internet Relay Chat. This art is a form of grassroots online artistic expression by newly computer-literate people having little or no formal training in art and only moderate education. It is a form of text-based art, an elaboration of “ASCII art.” Images are created from letters and typographic symbols. ASCII art employs only the typographic characters available in “plain text”, and has been with us since the 1960s and 1970s. IRC is ordinarily a textual, typed chat mode. A program called “mIRC, ” which can be used in Windows 95 and up, makes it possible to color images in any of 16 different colors, and to incorporate exotic typographic symbols, extended ASCII characters, as in the lower example in this slide. Images may be eithe
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