MED122 
Cyberculture: 
A whistle-stop 
trip 
1
What is cyberculture? 
• A slippery term to define 
• ‘it is the culture of and in cyberspace’ 
• Read & Gessler, 1996: 30...
What is cyberculture? 
• ‘To define cyberculture is to engage in 
obsolescence’ 
• Read & Gessler, 1996: 306 
3
What is cyberculture? 
• Cyberculture is the culture that has emerged, 
or is emerging, from the use of computer 
networks...
What is cyberculture? 
 ‘...the study of various social phenomena associated with 
the Internet and other new forms of ne...
• David Silver, ‘Looking Backwards, Looking 
Forward: Cyberculture Studies 1990-2000’ 
• http://rccs.usfca.edu/intro.asp 
...
• From mid 1990s onwards the study of 
cyberculture flourished as the internet 
began to grow 
7
3 distinct stages 
1. Popular cyberculture 
2. Cyberculture studies 
3. Critical cyberculture 
8
1 - Popular 
cyberculture 
• journalistic origins 
• descriptive in nature 
• metaphor of the internet-as-frontier 
9
AApprriill 11999933 JJuullyy 11999944 
10
11
limited dualism 
dystopian rants utopian raves 
12
limited dualism 
dystopian rants utopian raves 
13
John Perry Barlow 
• A Declaration of the 
Independence of 
Cyberspace (1990) 
Hear Barlow read the speech and discuss it’...
MONDO 2000 bOing bOing Wired 
15
16 
• Louis Rossetto (Wired’s 
publisher) likened cyberspace 
to "a new economy, a new 
counter culture, and 
beyond polit...
• Contributing editor John Perry 
Barlow "with the development 
of the Internet, and with the 
increasing pervasiveness of...
• “These highways -- or, more accurately, 
networks of distributed intelligence -- will 
allow us to share information, to...
• “Cyberspace. A consensual 
hallucination experienced 
daily by billions of legitimate 
operators . . . A graphic 
repres...
Internet as ‘frontier’ 
metaphor 
• Kapor and Barlow (1990) "Across the Electronic 
Frontier": 
• “In its present conditio...
Internet as ‘frontier’ 
metaphor 
• D. Rushkoff (1994) Media Virus: Hidden 
Agendas in Popular Culture: 
• "Nowhere has th...
Internet as ‘frontier’ 
metaphor 
• D.B Whittle (1997) Cyberspace: The Human 
Dimension: 
• "The pioneers, settlers, and s...
2 - Cyberculture 
Studies 
• Julian Dibbell (1993) “A Rape in Cyberspace; or 
How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spiri...
24
• Cyberspace as "incontrovertibly social 
spaces in which people still meet face-to-face, 
but under new definitions of bo...
• A group of people who may or may not meet one another 
face-to-face, and who exchange words and ideas through 
the media...
• The Virtual Community: 
Homesteading on the 
Electronic Frontier, 1993 
27
The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link 
1985-present 
28
• We temporarily have access to a tool that could bring 
conviviality and understanding into our lives and might help 
rev...
• Sherry Turkle (1995) Life on the Screen 
• 'Virtuality need not be a prison. It can be the 
raft, the ladder, the transi...
31
mid-1990s onwards 
• introduction of the first 
web browsers led to an 
internet gold-rush 
• more people came online 
• b...
3 - Critical 
Cyberculture 
• Moves beyond description 
33
Critical cyberculture studies... 
1. … explores the social, cultural, and economic interactions 
34 
which take place onli...
critical caution? 
• "Internet is another in a line of modern 
technologies that undermine traditional notions 
of civil s...
• complex interactions and behaviour 
in Usenet communities 
• ethical violations, policing of conduct 
- M. McLaughlin et...
Discoursing cyberspace 
• cyberspace as a hostile masculine realm, a space unsafe 
for women and children? 
• “the idea th...
• Wired has consistently and accurately 
been compared in the national media 
to Playboy. It contains the same 
glossy pic...
Online Access & 
Barriers 
• the "digital divide" between certain groups of Americans has 
increased between 1994 and 1997...
Online Access & 
Barriers 
• "The Net nation deploys shared knowledge and language to 
unite against outsiders: Net jargon...
Online Access & 
Barriers 
• Digital design 
• HCI (Human Computer Interaction) 
• Usability studies 
• Access for the vis...
Web Studies? 
• “The aim … is to shift scholarly discussion about 
the internet forwards, so that it fully considers 
the ...
Web Studies? 
• “The idea behind Web.Studies was to treat internet 
media like any other popular media that appeals to 
pe...
Struggle to make sense 
of the web 
1. How do we make sense of the disruption to major 
entertainment industries business ...
1 - have you ever participated in an digital/online 
community? 
2 - to what extent do you think it's appropriate to study...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

med122 intro to cyberculture (week 2; session 4)

1,362 views
1,193 views

Published on

UPDATED Sept 2014
Historical overview of the study of cyberculture. Based entirely on David Silver, 2000, http://rccs.usfca.edu/intro.asp

Published in: Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,362
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
196
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

med122 intro to cyberculture (week 2; session 4)

  1. 1. MED122 Cyberculture: A whistle-stop trip 1
  2. 2. What is cyberculture? • A slippery term to define • ‘it is the culture of and in cyberspace’ • Read & Gessler, 1996: 306 2
  3. 3. What is cyberculture? • ‘To define cyberculture is to engage in obsolescence’ • Read & Gessler, 1996: 306 3
  4. 4. What is cyberculture? • Cyberculture is the culture that has emerged, or is emerging, from the use of computer networks for communication, entertainment and business. 4
  5. 5. What is cyberculture?  ‘...the study of various social phenomena associated with the Internet and other new forms of network communication. Examples of what falls under cyberculture studies are online communities, online multi-player gaming, the issue of online identity, the sociology and the ethnography of email usage, cell phone usage in various communities; the issues of gender and ethnicity in Internet usage; and so on.’  Lev Manovich (2002: 16) 5
  6. 6. • David Silver, ‘Looking Backwards, Looking Forward: Cyberculture Studies 1990-2000’ • http://rccs.usfca.edu/intro.asp 6
  7. 7. • From mid 1990s onwards the study of cyberculture flourished as the internet began to grow 7
  8. 8. 3 distinct stages 1. Popular cyberculture 2. Cyberculture studies 3. Critical cyberculture 8
  9. 9. 1 - Popular cyberculture • journalistic origins • descriptive in nature • metaphor of the internet-as-frontier 9
  10. 10. AApprriill 11999933 JJuullyy 11999944 10
  11. 11. 11
  12. 12. limited dualism dystopian rants utopian raves 12
  13. 13. limited dualism dystopian rants utopian raves 13
  14. 14. John Perry Barlow • A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (1990) Hear Barlow read the speech and discuss it’s origins here Read the original speech on the EFF site here 14
  15. 15. MONDO 2000 bOing bOing Wired 15
  16. 16. 16 • Louis Rossetto (Wired’s publisher) likened cyberspace to "a new economy, a new counter culture, and beyond politics" • Kevin Kelly (Wired’s executive editor) proclaimed "technology is absolutely, 100 percent, positive"
  17. 17. • Contributing editor John Perry Barlow "with the development of the Internet, and with the increasing pervasiveness of communication between networked computers, we are in the middle of the most transforming technical event since the capture of fire" 17
  18. 18. • “These highways -- or, more accurately, networks of distributed intelligence -- will allow us to share information, to connect, and to communicate as a global community. From these connections we will derive robust and sustainable economic progress, strong democracies, better solutions to global and local environmental challenges, improved health care, and -- ultimately -- a greater sense of shared stewardship of our small planet.” 18 Al Gore
  19. 19. • “Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators . . . A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity” • (Gibson, 1984 Neuromancer) 19
  20. 20. Internet as ‘frontier’ metaphor • Kapor and Barlow (1990) "Across the Electronic Frontier": • “In its present condition, cyberspace is a frontier region, populated by the few hardy technologists who can tolerate the austerity of its savage computer interfaces, incompatible communication protocols, proprietary barricades, cultural and legal ambiguities, and general lack of useful maps or metaphors.” 20
  21. 21. Internet as ‘frontier’ metaphor • D. Rushkoff (1994) Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture: • "Nowhere has the American pioneer spirit been more revitalized than on the electronic frontier". 21
  22. 22. Internet as ‘frontier’ metaphor • D.B Whittle (1997) Cyberspace: The Human Dimension: • "The pioneers, settlers, and squatters of the virgin territories of cyberspace have divided some of that land into plots of social order and plowed it into furrows of discipline -- for the simple reason that is natural resources can only be found in the mind and have great value if shared" 22
  23. 23. 2 - Cyberculture Studies • Julian Dibbell (1993) “A Rape in Cyberspace; or How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society” • LambdaMOO 23
  24. 24. 24
  25. 25. • Cyberspace as "incontrovertibly social spaces in which people still meet face-to-face, but under new definitions of both 'meet' and 'face'" • Allucquere Rosanne Stone (1991) “Will the real body please stand up?: Boundary stories about virtual cultures” In Benedikt, M. (ed.) Cyberspace: First Steps 25
  26. 26. • A group of people who may or may not meet one another face-to-face, and who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of computer bulletin boards and networks. • In cyberspace, we chat and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, perform acts of commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and lose them, play games and metagames, flirt, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk. • We do everything people do when people get together, but we do it with words on computer screens, leaving our bodies behind • Howard Rheingold, 1993, “A slice of life in my virtual 26 community”
  27. 27. • The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, 1993 27
  28. 28. The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link 1985-present 28
  29. 29. • We temporarily have access to a tool that could bring conviviality and understanding into our lives and might help revitalize the public sphere. • The same tool, improperly controlled and wielded, could become an instrument of tyranny. The vision of a citizen-designed, citizen-controlled worldwide communications network is a version of technological utopianism that could be called the vision of "the electronic agora" • H. Rheingold, 1993, The Virtual Community 29
  30. 30. • Sherry Turkle (1995) Life on the Screen • 'Virtuality need not be a prison. It can be the raft, the ladder, the transitional space, the moratorium, that is discarded after reaching greater freedom. • We don't have to reject life on the screen, but we don't have to treat it as an alternate life either' 30
  31. 31. 31
  32. 32. mid-1990s onwards • introduction of the first web browsers led to an internet gold-rush • more people came online • better user experience 32 (gui > ftp) • new scholar = new ideas • dozens of academic books published
  33. 33. 3 - Critical Cyberculture • Moves beyond description 33
  34. 34. Critical cyberculture studies... 1. … explores the social, cultural, and economic interactions 34 which take place online 2. ... unfolds and examines the stories we tell about such interactions 3. ... analyzes a range of social, cultural, political, and economic considerations which encourage, make possible, and/or thwart individual and group access to such interactions 4. ... assesses the deliberate, accidental, and alternative technological decision- and design-processes which, when implemented, form the interface between the network and its users
  35. 35. critical caution? • "Internet is another in a line of modern technologies that undermine traditional notions of civil society that require unity and shun multiplicity while giving impressions that they in fact re-create such a society" • Steve Jones (1997) Virtual Culture: Identity & Communication in Cybersociety 35
  36. 36. • complex interactions and behaviour in Usenet communities • ethical violations, policing of conduct - M. McLaughlin et al (1995) • news forms of expression and relationships which move between face-to-face and networked interactions - N. Baym (1995) 36
  37. 37. Discoursing cyberspace • cyberspace as a hostile masculine realm, a space unsafe for women and children? • “the idea that women merit special protections in an environment as incorporeal as the Net is intimately bound up with the idea that women's minds are weak, fragile, and unsuited to the rough and tumble of public discourse” • L. Miller (1995) ‘Women and children first: Gender and the settling of the electronic frontier’ in Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information 37
  38. 38. • Wired has consistently and accurately been compared in the national media to Playboy. It contains the same glossy pictures of certified nerd-suave things to buy - which, since it's the nineties, includes cool hand-held scanners as well as audio equipment and cars – it is the wishbook of material desire for young men” • P Borsook (1996) The memoirs of a token: An aging Berkeley feminist examines Wired 38
  39. 39. Online Access & Barriers • the "digital divide" between certain groups of Americans has increased between 1994 and 1997 so that there is now an even greater disparity in penetration levels among some groups. There is a widening gap, for example, between those at upper and lower income levels. Additionally, even though all racial groups now own more computers than they did in 1994, Blacks and Hispanics now lag even further behind Whites in their levels of PC-ownership and on-line access. • National Telecommunications and Information Administration (1998) ‘Falling Through The Net II: New Data on the Digital Divide” 39
  40. 40. Online Access & Barriers • "The Net nation deploys shared knowledge and language to unite against outsiders: Net jargon extends beyond technical language to acronyms both benign (BTW, 'By the way') and snippy (RTFM, 'Read the fucking manual'). It includes neologisms, text-graphical hybrids called emoticons, and a thoroughgoing anti-'newbie' snobbery. Like any other community, it uses language to erect barriers to membership" • C. Bailey (1996) Virtual Skin: Articulating Race in Cyberspace 40
  41. 41. Online Access & Barriers • Digital design • HCI (Human Computer Interaction) • Usability studies • Access for the visually impaired 41
  42. 42. Web Studies? • “The aim … is to shift scholarly discussion about the internet forwards, so that it fully considers the multi-faceted and popular Web, instead of contenting itself with publishing yet another article about how no-one knows who you are in cyberspace (which is an interesting, if rather obvious, point – but how many books do we need to tell us this?).” • David Gauntlett (2000) web.studies 42
  43. 43. Web Studies? • “The idea behind Web.Studies was to treat internet media like any other popular media that appeals to people (without, of course, forgetting about the things that made it unique). In a world where people are still burbling about 'cyberculture' - a term whose useful potential has been killed off by the staggering number of tedious things that have been written about it - I believe we can still be confident that this is refreshing and appropriate. New media would be nothing if it wasn't meaningful to people, if it wasn't a site of sociability, politics, art, emotion, music and dancing. (Of course, that's what 'cyberculture' refers to - maybe without the dancing - but I'm not sure we need new nerdwords)” 43
  44. 44. Struggle to make sense of the web 1. How do we make sense of the disruption to major entertainment industries business models by people exchanging files? 2. What is the role of established publishers when anyone can self-publish? 3. To what extent has the Internet brought about increased access to information and the spreading of democracy? 4. How beneficial is anonymity online and should it be 44 protected?
  45. 45. 1 - have you ever participated in an digital/online community? 2 - to what extent do you think it's appropriate to study people's behaviour online (and what can it tell us)? 3 - have you ever witnessed something unsavoury or unpalatable in the realms of online/digital/cyber culture? 4 - if so, what was it about that incident that that was significant and does it have an offline equivalent? 45

×