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Macm03 Consuming Cyberspace

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Some slides used in the MA module 'Consumption'. First set of slides introduced students to ideas around what cyberspace is, discussions around the terminology, it's history and trajectory. Second ...

Some slides used in the MA module 'Consumption'. First set of slides introduced students to ideas around what cyberspace is, discussions around the terminology, it's history and trajectory. Second half of the session focussed more on consumption practices and engagement with game spaces. A short screening from the recent documentary "Second Skin" and the slightly older "Wonderland: Virtual Adultery and Cyber Space Love" was also shown. We explored some of the appeals of gaming in digital worlds and students played the following games (on the Playstation 3):
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ('No Russian' stage); - Heavy Rain ('Hassan's Shop' and 'The Lizard' stages); - Flower ('Level 1'). The aim behind the gameplay was to get students to think through their own moral motivations behind game play and to reflect on their agency within structured systems

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Macm03 Consuming Cyberspace Macm03 Consuming Cyberspace Presentation Transcript

  • MACM03 robert.jewitt@sunderland.ac.uk http://twitter.com/rob_jewitt
  •  Defining cyberspace  Questions  Consuming cyberspace  Second Life  World of Warcraft  Farmville  Heavy Rain  Modern Warfare 2  Flower
  •  "Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts...A graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..." William Gibson, Neuromancer, 1984.
  •  "...the ether that lies inside and occupies the in-betweens of all the computers.” Sardar Z. & Ravetz J.R., 1995.  ".. cyberspace is the homeland of the Information Age - the place where the citizens of the future are destined to dwell." John Perry Barlow, 1991.
  •  "Whether by one telephonic tendril or millions, they are all connected to one another. Collectively, they form what their inhabitants call the Net. It extends across that immense region of electron states, microwaves, magnetic fields, light pulses and thought which sci-fi writer William Gibson named Cyberspace.  Cyberspace, in its present condition, has a lot in common with the 19th Century West. It is vast, unmapped, culturally and legally ambiguous, verbally terse (unless you happen to be a court stenographer), hard to get around in, and up for grabs. Large institutions already claim to own the place, but most of the actual natives are solitary and independent, sometimes to the point of sociopathy. It is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for both outlaws and new ideas about liberty." John Perry Barlow, Crime & Puzzlement, 1990.
  •  Offline and online digital worlds?  Mobile phone communications?  A place where you chat, explore, research and play
  •  “... where you are when you are talking on the telephone.” John Perry Barlow
  •  Global internet and the „death of distance‟ (Frances Cairncross, 1997)  The „global village‟ (Marshall McLuhan)  Human society is a form of network in which connections between agents or „nodes‟ are increasing exponentially
  •  Aka the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon  Origins in Stanley Milgram‟s „small world problem‟ (1967) which looked at the connectedness of the population of the US
  •  Cyberspace is not bound by geographical boundaries and allows for more imaginative uses of space  Kant postulated that we are bound to a 3D world only by experience, and that there is no theoretical problems with the existence of spaces of four, five, or more dimensions (Browne Garnett Jr., 1965)
  •  Unlike much of physical space, cyberspace tends to be dynamic, temporary, impermanent  Documents may be moved or mirrored and survival of information depends on its interest to others
  •  "Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts...A graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..." William Gibson, Neuromancer, 1984.
  •  Gibson‟s definition = pre-Internet  Matrix: cyberspace protects participants from reality  Cyberspace = our new reality?
  •  “Despite its lack of physicality, cyberspace is a real place. I am there--whatever this statement may ultimately turn out to mean.” Wertheim, 1999: 229  Sherry Turkle (1995) talks of the way that our “being” in cyberspace can be radically different to our physical being; a way to explore the identities we'd like to have.
  •  “If „being‟ in cyberspace is a new kind of being, distinct from but nonetheless just as metaphysically substantive as „being‟ in the flesh for instance, then there can be little doubt that the Internet is indeed a radically new technology.” Graham, 1999: 24  “Gibson famously defined cyberspace as a space apart from the corporeal world— a hallucination. But the Internet is not growing apart from the world, but to the contrary is increasingly embedded in it” Agre, 1999
  •  Gibson's cyberspace was an escape from the horrors of "meatspace”. Will it be possible to "jack in" full-time, and would this be desirable?  Does this mean we have to think about “being” in (on? with?) cyberspace differently to offline?  What does this possibility hold for the future of humanity?
  •  Consumption of virtual goods in digital worlds  Second Life  Playstation Home  World Of Warcraft  Everquest  Disney‟s Club Penguin
  •  Consumption of virtual goods in digital worlds  "The concept of virtual goods is exploding beyond virtual worlds,” (Cary Rosenzweig, president and CEO of IMVU, a social network and 3D virtual world)  Estimated value: $5-6 billion
  •  Produced by Zygna  80 million users  $2.61 billion
  •  Produced by  Facebook: $11.52 Zygna billion  80 million users  Twitter: $1.44 billion  $2.61 billion  Linden Lab: $383 million  LinkedIn: $1.3 billion
  •  Anxieties around the use of cyberspace:  Children and social media (eg bullying, privacy)  Sexual content (eg sexting, porn streaming sites)  Violent content (eg video games, video sites)  Destroying memories (eg recall of facts)  Destroying canons (eg new sources of authority)  UK opened computer rehab clinic in 2009
  •  “They say he raped them that night. They say he did it with a cunning little doll, fashioned in their image and imbued with the power to make them do whatever he desired. They say that by manipulating the doll he forced them to have sex with him, and with each other, and to do horrible, brutal things to their own bodies. And though I wasn't there that night, I think I can assure you that what they say is true, because it all happened right in the living room -- right there amid the well- stocked bookcases and the sofas and the fireplace -- of a house I came for a time to think of as my second home. ”
  •  Cyberspace: a new attention based economy
  •  Immersion?  Escapism?  Embodiment?  Cyborg?  See Helen Kennedy, 2002  See Second Skin
  •  URLs and weblinks allow us to navigate through cyberspace following our own paths  Control over experience = empowering?  Virtual worlds allow us similar control and mastery over environment.  Virtual worlds or spaces offer us variable experiences based on our choices and decisions
  • Source: IFPI, Digital Music Report 2010
  • stability  disruption  resolution Act I Act II Act III
  • Game Ends? Start End Start Ends?
  •  Are the pleasures of cyberspace tied into the control and empowerment users feel when engaging in these practises?  To what extent should we be concerned about the increasing amount of time we seem to be spending consuming incorporeal content?