Jeffrey R. Young [Young, 1994, lines 36ff:,] makes a strong claim that the MUD is a different medium from either the spoken or the written text:
``THE ARGUMENT MUDS offer new and HIGHLY COMPELLING LANGUAGE EXPERIENCES. In both LANGUAGE STRUCTURE and SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS, MUD allows people to express themselves and explore identity in a simple (text only), user-controlled environment. The medium's primary mode of dialog - two-way typing in real time - takes advantage of the newest means of communication: computer networks. WRITING 'CONVERSATIONS' is thus a new concept, one which hovers between resembling speech and resembling writing, but which in its mixing of forms gains entirely new resonances and characteristics. Since writing is expected to take longer than speech to produce and can be drafted and honed in isolation before being sent out over the MUD, input is usually better structured and more topically focused than spoken exchanges. However, like speech, the sense of 'breath,' or distinct presence in time, and the freedom to move freely in the text base forces words into smaller spaces (TEXT BITS) than in traditional written works on paper. The device that transmits the communication of MUDs, the COMPUTER SCREEN, further blurs distinctions between writing and speech. On the screen, written words are both concrete and fleeting, making words more malleable than in bound books, but more solid than speech. NEW VISUAL CUES mix with language characters to compensate for seeing the objects described in these on-line discussions, furthering a sense of presence and engagement. In the virtual text world of MUD, the reader is in control. They control WHAT THEY SEE OF THE VIRTUAL WORLD and WHAT THE VIRTUAL WORLD SEES OF THEM through the use of MUD's OBJECT ORIENTED PROGRAMMING ENVIRONMENT. The framework that allows PERFORMATIVE LANGUAGE control constantly reminds readers of their authoritative stance and critical distance from their own speech and experience. As a result the text gains a unique BLEND OF TRANSPARENCY AND OPACITY, as players constantly shift stance from immersion in the imaginative space to evaluation and control over the textual objects.''
MUDs like other text-based many-user virtual worlds (like the French Minitel System) do indeed change things: Clearly, the ``performative language control'' aspect is very interesting, especially since one can ``backtrack'' in a MOO client and have a ``look'' at what one has engaged in a conversation. Along the same lines, written conversations are not only (or one could say necessarily) more ``solid'' because words are preparred in advanced before sending them off, but also because they can be retrieved at any time and pasted back into a conversation by the author or another participant. ``Malleability'' despite increased ``solidity'' is the correlate. Therefore written conversations are not just in between spoken and written text but they add avantages of their own !