(In)visibility in the Digital: Online Military Forums












Following on from our presentation at Leeds University, the DUN Project will also be presenting further research into ‘anonymity’ and online military forums at the Negotiating (In)Visibility: Managing Attention in the Digital Sphere in Barcelona on the 5th of June.

The conference considers whether the strategies and habits in which users of the digital public sphere currently perform attention-management ultimately leads to more visibility and plurality, or rather, more invisibility and uniformity.

Our paper –  entitled (In)visibility in the Digital: Online Military Forums –  explores how concepts of anonymity are aligned with visibility in terms of what, where and when information is made (in)visible and to what end.  We draw on data collected from military forums including Arrse, Navy Net, Rear Party and P-Prune and examine the tensions apparent in these seemingly private yet extremely public online spaces arguing that the illusion of invisibility, anonymity and privacy has two related critical consequences.

First, they enable and facilitate a pre-existing, imaginary performance of a collective military identity that does not always resonate with the one that the British military seek to project but which becomes partially mitigated by the very pseudonymity that facilitates it.

Second, by virtue of the relative safety of pseudonymity and the resulting performative community those who manage, moderate, and control the forums pro-actively construct ‘their’ military forum community as politically and commercially viable.

By drawing attention to these issues we raise critical questions about the nature of ‘anonymity’ and the complex tensions in and negotiations of private and public, visibility and invisibility that occur through it.

We are hoping to publish the findings from this paper in a forthcoming journal article and will keep you posted on the details.

In the meantime, more information can be found on the conference website.

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