World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

Peter Steiner's cartoon, as published in The New Yorker

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" is an adage which began as a cartoon caption by Peter Steiner and published by The New Yorker on July 5, 1993.[1][2] The cartoon features two dogs: one sitting on a chair in front of a computer, speaking the caption to a second dog sitting on the floor.[2][3] As of 2011, the panel was the most reproduced cartoon from The New Yorker, and Steiner has earned over US $50,000 from its reprinting.[1][4][5]


  • History 1
  • Context 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Peter Steiner, a cartoonist and contributor to The New Yorker since 1979,[6] said the cartoon initially did not get a lot of attention, but later took on a life of its own, and that he felt similar to the person who created the "smiley face".[1] In fact, Steiner was not that interested in the Internet when he drew the cartoon, and although he did have an online account, he recalled attaching no "profound" meaning to the cartoon; it was just something he drew in the manner of a "make-up-a-caption" cartoon.[1]

In response to the comic's popularity, he stated, "I can't quite fathom that it's that widely known and recognized."[1]


The cartoon marks a notable moment in the history of the Internet. Once the exclusive domain of government engineers and academics, the Internet was now a subject of discussion in general interest magazines like The New Yorker. Lotus Software founder and early Internet activist Mitch Kapor commented in a Time magazine article in 1993 that "the true sign that popular interest has reached critical mass came this summer when the New Yorker printed a cartoon showing two computer-savvy canines".[7]

The cartoon symbolizes an understanding of Internet privacy that stresses the ability of users to send and receive messages in general anonymity. Lawrence Lessig suggests "no one knows" because Internet protocols do not force users to identify themselves, although local access points such as a user's university may; but this information is privately held by the local access point and not an intrinsic part of the Internet transaction.[8]

A study by Morahan-Martin and Schumacher (2000) on compulsive or problematic Internet use discusses this phenomenon, suggesting the ability to self-represent from behind the computer screen may be part of the compulsion to go online.[9] The phrase can be taken "to mean that cyberspace will be liberatory because gender, race, age, looks, or even 'dogness' are potentially absent or alternatively fabricated or exaggerated with unchecked creative license for a multitude of purposes both legal and illegal", an understanding that echoed statements made in 1996 by John Gilmore, a key figure in the history of Usenet.[10] The phrase also suggests the ability to "computer cross-dress" and represent oneself as a different gender, age, race, etc.[11] On another level, "the freedom which the dog chooses to avail itself of, is the freedom to 'pass' as part of a privileged group; i.e. human computer users with access to the Internet".[11][12]

In popular culture

The cartoon has inspired the play Nobody Knows I'm a Dog by Alan David Perkins. The play revolves around six different individuals unable to communicate effectively with people in their lives who find the courage to socialize on the Internet, protected by their anonymity.[1]

The Apple Internet suite Cyberdog was named after this cartoon.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Fleishman, Glenn (December 14, 2000). "Cartoon Captures Spirit of the Internet".  
  2. ^ a b Aikat, Debashis "Deb" (1993). "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog".  
  3. ^ EURSOC (2007). "New Privacy Concerns". EURSOC. Retrieved October 2, 2007. 
  4. ^ Glenn Fleishman (October 29, 1998). "New Yorker Cartoons to Go on Line". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2007. 
  5. ^ January 2011 Brown's Guide Cover | Brown's Guide to Georgia
  6. ^ January 2011, Brown's Guide to Georgia
  7. ^ Elmer-DeWitt, Philip; Jackson, David S. & King, Wendy (December 6, 1993). "First Nation in Cyberspace". Time. Retrieved March 21, 2009. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ Taylor, Maxwell; Quayle, Ethel (2003). Child Pornography: An Internet Crime. New York: Psychology Press. p. 97.  
  10. ^ Jordan, Tim (1999). "The Virtual Individual". Cyberpower: The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and the Internet. New York: Routledge. p. 66.  
  11. ^ a b Trend, David (2001). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 226–7.  
  12. ^ Singel, Ryan (September 6, 2007). "Fraudster Who Impersonated a Lawyer to Steal Domain Names Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud". Wired. Retrieved October 2, 2007. 
  13. ^ Ticktin, Neil (February 1996). "Save Cyberdog!".  

Further reading

  • Jones, Christopher R. (2004). "Nobody knows you're a dog". In Land, Ray & Bayne, Siân. Education in Cyberspace. New York: Routledge. 105 pages.  
  • Nielsen, Jakob (1995). Multimedia and Hypertext: The Internet and Beyond. San Diego: AP Professional. 172 pages.  
  • Nakamura, Lisa (2002). Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge. 35 pages.  
  • Schneider, Edgar (2003). Living the Good Life With Autism. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 44 pages.  
  • Turkle, Sherry (1997). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster. 352 pages.  

External links

  • Peter Steiner's site
  • Myth/Reality
  • The Cartoon Bank online
  • Nobody Knows I'm a Dog production
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.