One of my colleagues and business school classmates Christopher Griffin forwarded me an interesting article from the New York Times on the "online disinhibition effect." In layman's terms, it is our willingness to be rude to people we don't know personally on e-mail or in public forums. Simply put, we won't say things in person to people that we'd routinely say in an e-mail message.
Interesting article. I highly recommend it as someone who has been both a victim and a perpetrator of the online disinhibition effect. It's enough to make you think twice about what you send out to people.
On a related note, a blog post from Ryan Stewart of ZDNet made the rounds over e-mail here yesterday. Maybe there is something to this "effect" after all... ;-)