For the computer fanatics and other users of the Kiewitt Computer System at Dartmouth College, the Xcalibur program offers the thrill of chatting with other people and even developing a close relationship without ever having to meet the parties involved.
Xcalibur allows users at terminals from around campus and from as far away as Ursinus College in Pennsylvania to exchange messages Students nationwide utilize the program by obtaining a valid user number from the national Telenet computer system.
Students log on the system with code names, and nicknames conceal their true identity D B. Kay, a freshman at Dartmouth, feels that "the anonymity is the nice part of it because it protects a person's social reputation." A regular user, he further notes that one's personality plays a more crucial role than physical looks in influencing one's chance to meet others.
In recollecting his encounter with a woman who resides in Hanover, N. H., after having communicated with her through Xcalibur, Kay says that this "fun" method of communication is "quite different from the real world." Kay spotted his "computer-pal" as he walked by her terminal and by chance saw the typing pattern that corresponds to the pattern that he had been receiving at his terminal.
This chance meeting does not occur very frequently because most users employ the block command to instruct the computer to hide location of the terminal.
To Find a Prom Date
The same woman, who refuses to be identified has been using the Kiewitt system for 10 years. Her brother, who attended Dartmouth introduced her to the system She says she has met many people through Xcalibur and the most memorable encounter was with her eventual senior prom date, who logged on from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Students also form deep friendships through the program Paul R. Johnson, a sophomore, reflects that "I'm not a fanatical user, but it's a handy way of talking to new and old friends "David Ariel Cohen, a junior whose sign on name is The Wizeard of Id," has been able to track down people he met who now are his companions to frequent late-night pizza party.
The one drawback about which students have expressed concern is the falsification of one's identity by, according to one student, "the masters of leading people on."