netizen

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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netizen

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:44 am

aaa
<2013 “Voices of Netizens joined in support with signature petitions online. Protesters appeared in the streets of Guangzhou [[China]]. . . Netizens and activists fight back by being creative. To avoid keyboard filtering, they discuss sensitive issues by using historical allusions, word games and similar methods.”—Scientific American, April, page 14>
NETIZEN noun [1984] (capitalized and not): An active participant in the online community of the Internet; a person who uses the Internet, especially habitually. [blend of net and citizen] (Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster.com)

I was considering posting this topic under Irritating expressions or worse, but since this is the first time I’ve seen this expression, I haven’t had sufficient time to build up a good head of irritation, but I feel that coming on – the word is just trying too hard to be clever. And besides, the above posting is really reserved for ‘familiar,’ irritating or worse expression and netizen is not familiar, at least to me.

But with a surprising ~12,000,000 Google hits (at my space-time coordinates), and with its appearance in every dictionary I checked, netizen is not as unknown as I had assumed. And I suppose it does fill a need for a one-word expression for an Internet user.

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1984 “For all you netizens who can't appreciate a joke for its humor and must debate its theme.”— Re: Re: Russia on the Net in net.followup (Usenet newsgroup), 10 April>

<1993 (title) “Common sense: the Net and the Netizens: the impact the Net has on people's lives”—M. Hauben in Amateur Computerist Newsletter, Vol.5, Summer-Fall, page 11>

<1995 (heading) “This week we look at how the new generation of commercial Web browsers such as Netscape can help Netizens surf the world.”—Computer Weekly , 11 May, page 46>

<1996 “Several Web sites have set up Valentine's Day pages to put love-lorn netizens in touch.”—Daily Telegraph (London), 13 February, page 20/6>

<2000 “That first week . . . StopDrLaura.com got four million hits, and netizens around the world inundated the show's advertisers with e-mails and phone calls.”—The New Republic, 30 October, page 6 s/1>

<2004 “An Internet posting refers to China as a father, and Taiwan as a disobedient son. ‘The father must discipline the son, and do it now,’ the ‘netizen’ said.”—The Christian Science Monitor, 24 March>

<2008 “The song was written by an unknown ‘netizen’ and was passed around the web before being printed in The Beijing News on Tuesday.”—The Independent (London), 13 August>

<2013 “But it is also difficult to agree with much that was commented on it by the governments, the politicians, the media and the netizen who last week caused uproar in India and a cross-border war of words between India and Pakistan.”—New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), 2 February>
Update: After doing my above quotes search on the web and in various news archives, I discovered that after about the year 2000 the use of netizen in the English-speaking world had begun to dry up except for English versions of publications originating in China, India Malaysia, South America, etc. and in articles referring to those countries. And I also noted that the author of the 2013 Scientific American quote at the top of this page is Guobin Yang, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (2009). So, if you too have never come across this word, don’t feel bad – you are probably not alone. And you are still free to begin to find it irritating or worse. (<:)
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Ken – March 24, 2013
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Re: netizen

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:27 am

To my mind, as the origin of the word suggests (net + citizen), netizen connotes something more than a mere user of the internet. It emphasizes the importance of the individual user as an active participant in not only shaping the evolution of the internet itself, but in using it as a tool to influence policymakers and spark off or contribute to debates on topics of public concern. It is my impression that as the Web has evolved from being the preserve of a well-educated and/or technology-obsessed minority to a mainstream channel of information and communication, so the focus of what it means to be a netizen has changed accordingly.

Some countries, such as Denmark, have an official policy of facilitating the use of technology to enable people to become so-called 'digital citizens' who are encouraged to use their Web-connected devices to contact their elected representatives directly, interact with the public institutions they have dealings with, contribute their opinions or expertise on proposed legislation before it is voted on, etc.

Other examples of 'netizen' types of activity would be organizing or signing online petitions (as one of your citations mentions, Ken), setting up some kind of organized campaign or protest group, or even coordinating a babysitting roster among one's neighbours or friends on Facebook.

To the extent that people are actually using the Web in these ways, making the term relevant to their activities and aspirations, I think it deserves a little more consideration than you currently appear to have for it. :-)
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Re: netizen

Post by tony h » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:49 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:[Update... I discovered that after about the year 2000 the use of netizen in the English-speaking world had begun to dry up except for English versions of publications originating in China, India Malaysia, South America, etc. and in articles referring to those countries.
Ken – March 24, 2013
Maybe the interesting social element is that before 2000 people were remarkable for being a Netizen. Since 200 being a netizen is a normal state for people in the developed world and so the word has withered (except in countries where this is not the norm). Maybe soon we will see (coined here) a word for people who don't use the internet.
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Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: netizen

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:49 am

aaa
Tony, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

And here’s where you heard it first: I propose that a person who doesn’t use the internet be called a CYBERNOT.
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Ken – March 25, 2013
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Re: netizen

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:12 am

Very good, Ken. :-)
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Re: netizen

Post by tony h » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:37 pm

maybe aliner
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Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: netizen

Post by Wizard of Oz » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:21 am

.. I like NETINOT ..

WoZ
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

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