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  1. 1. Edited byDaniel Riha & Anna Maj
  2. 2. The Real and the Virtual
  3. 3. Series EditorsDr Robert FisherDr Nancy BilliasAdvisory BoardDr Alejandro Cervantes-Carson Dr Peter Mario KreuterProfessor Margaret Chatterjee Martin McGoldrickDr Wayne Cristaudo Revd Stephen MorrisMira Crouch Professor John ParryDr Phil Fitzsimmons Paul ReynoldsProfessor Asa Kasher Professor Peter TwohigOwen Kelly Professor S Ram VemuriRevd Dr Kenneth Wilson, O.B.EA Critical Issues research and publications project. Cyber Hub‘Cybercultures’Critical Issues
  4. 4. The Real and the Virtual:Critical Issues in CyberculturesEdited byDaniel Riha And Anna MajInter-Disciplinary PressOxford, United Kingdom
  5. 5. © Inter-Disciplinary Press 2009 Inter-Disciplinary Press is part of Inter-Disciplinary.Net – a globalnetwork for research and publishing. The Inter-Disciplinary Press aims topromote and encourage the kind of work which is collaborative, innovative,imaginative, and which provides an exemplar for inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary publishing.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in aretrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the priorpermission of Inter-Disciplinary Press.Inter-Disciplinary Press, Priory House, 149B Wroslyn Road, Freeland,Oxfordshire. OX29 8HR, United Kingdom.+44 (0)1993 882087British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record for thisbook is available from the British Library.ISBN: 978-1-84888-012-2First published in the United Kingdom in eBook format in 2009. FirstEdition.
  6. 6. Table of ContentsIntroduction ixDaniel Riha and Anna MajPART I Theories and Concepts ofCyberspace and CybercultureRedefining the Body in Cyberculture:Arts Contribution to a NewUnderstanding of Embodiment 3Umut Burcu Tasa and Âli YurtseverHuman Bodies in Cyberspace 13Ayse SatPART II Online Communities, Web 2.0and Emerging Practices inSocial NetworkingHybrid Communities to DigitalArts Festivals: From OnlineDiscussions to Offline Gatherings 25Donata MarlettaThis Time Its Personal: SocialNetworks, Viral Politics andIdentity Management 35Nils GustafssonThe Second Self Through SecondLife 45Kristi N. ScottPART III CybersubculturesSex, Sexuality, and Cyberspace 57Vikki Fraser
  7. 7. The Use of Social NetworkingSites And Their Relation to Users’Offline Networks 67Natalia Waechter,KaveriSubrahmanyam, Stephanie M. Reichand Guadalupe EspinozaCybergrace Among EatingDisorder Survivors in Singapore 77Bittiandra Chand SomaiahPart IV The Future of Interactive EntertainmentPlaying Games as an ArtExperience 89Jef FolkertsAnthropology of Accessibility:The Perceptual Problems ofHuman-Computer Interactions 97Anna Maj and Michal Derda-NowakowskiPart V Social Presence in Virtual WorldsSocial Nature of Time and Spacein Online Games: DesigningFantastic Social Worlds 109Göknur Bostanci Ege and Nicholas KoullapisWeb Based Authorship in theContext of User Generated Content:An Analysis of a Turkish Web Site:Eksi Sozluk 119Burak Dogu, Zehra Ziraman and D. EmrahZiramanPart VI The Cultures of Online Learning andEducational Use of VideogamesThe 3-D Virtual Library Concept Revisited 129Daniel Riha
  8. 8. Cyberculture: Learning NewLiteracies through Machinima 139Theodoros ThomasPART VII Digital Art and Interactive Storytelling‘Print Novels and the Mark of the Digital’:Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutionsand Media Convergence 151Tatiani G. RapatzikouIntermedial Performance: DigitalConnectivity 161Tyng Shiuh YapPART VIII Cyber-Policy and Cyber-Democracy andtheir Impact on National and Global PoliticsGovernance and the Global Metaverse 173Melissa DeZwart and David LindsayPolitics and Social Software:Recommendations for InclusiveICTs 183Christina Neumayer, Celina Raffland Robert M. BichlerMediatisation of Terror inCyberspace: Scrutinizing Al-Qaeda’sMedia Strategy 193Rasha El-Ibiary
  9. 9. IntroductionDaniel Riha & Anna MajThe papers in this volume reflect the debates that progressed duringthe 4thGlobal conference on Cybercultures: Exploring Critical Issues, heldas a part of Cyber Hub activity in Salzburg, Austria in March 2009. Theedited draft papers make up a snapshot for the actual publishing.This multi-disciplinary conference project is a successful reborn ofthe 2003-2005 conferences held previously in Prague in the frames of Critical Issues research project.Being a contemporary dominating cultural paradigm, cyberculture isan important subject for a wide range of researchers representing variousdisciplines. Thus, the idea of interdisciplinary exchange of knowledgethrough presenting results of diversified research projects seems to be crucialfor their further development at both local and global levels. The researchproblems connected with cyberculture (or rather cybercultures) nowadays arethose arising in the field of philosophy, psychology, sociology, culture, mediaand game studies, IT studies, engineering, design and law.One of the fundamental topics raised during the conference was theissue of access analysed at various levels, especially users access toinformation and technology with regard to the notion of diversifiedcompetencies, knowledge and disabilities but also accessibility of the contentand interface. The discussions also concerned the question of user’sinvolvement in the process of development of technologies and devices,client’s incorporation into the creative process and the idea of user-friendlyinterfaces as well as their implementation. The issues were elaborated onwith reference to the problematics of control gaining, maintaining and lack ofcontrol as associated with privacy and its loss. This subject implies ideas ofcontrol over the dispersed and decentralised system of the Net itself but alsoof the content distribution in the context of Web 2.0 architecture and culturaltrend of sharing. Moreover, these areas provoked questions on changes ineducation and the increasing need to provide cyber-education for variousgroups of society in view of their specified profiles. The necessity to broadenthe abilities of an average user and the demand to constantly increaseteachers competencies are the challenges for educational systems. Theseproblems were analysed with reference to interesting local examples ofdifferent forms of implementation of new ideas and methods of creativeteaching of media and through media, i.e. with the use of 3D environments,games, machinima and social networking websites.The relation between the real and the virtual was the secondimportant issue raised during the conference. Crucial terms analysed invarious contexts became ‘interaction’ and ‘interactivity’. This problematics
  10. 10. Introduction______________________________________________________________xconcerns virtual environments, game design and human-computerinteraction, user-generated content connected with the ideas of openness,folksonomies and wikinomics. Both the constantly emerging and growingvirtual communities and the convergence of new media create newpossibilities of communication. The current situation enables media users todevelop, often subconsciously, their skills and various types ofcommunication behaviour, which results in new models of perception andthinking-thus, new patterns of culture and new forms of society. However,cyberculture, being shaped by the global market and by informationmarketing provided by major teleinformation companies, still largelydepends on the Web users will and their access to the global informationproduct. Web 2.0 can be without any hesitation regarded as such a product-moreover, a successful one. But the label ‘2.0’ quickly changes into ‘3.0’, asthe novelty is one of the priorities of marketing. What does it mean for theusers and for future communication? The authors specializing in variousdisciplines try to find answers to these and other important questions of ourcontemporariness and future.This book consists from 19 chapters and has been organized intoeight parts:Part I: Theories and Concepts of Cyberspace andCyberculture;Part II: Online Communities, Web 2.0 and EmergingPractices in Social Networking;Part III: Cybersubcultures;Part IV: The Future of Interactive Entertainment;Part V: Social Presence in Virtual Worlds;Part VI: The Cultures of Online Learning and EducationalUse of Videogames;Part VII: Digital Art and Interactive Storytelling;Part VIII: Cyber-Policy and Cyber-Democracy and theirImpact on National and Global Politics;The first part comprises from 2 chapters on loosely corresponding topics:Umut Burcu Tasa and Âli Yurtsever in their opening essay(“Redefining the Body in Cyberculture: Arts Contribution to a NewUnderstanding of Embodiment”) concentrate on the issue of the body incyberspace and the question of its redefinition by digital environment,especially by new media art. Digital culture is seen here as a continuation ofthe Cartesian dream of disembodiment of humanity by freeing the mind fromthe materiality of reality. The authors compare this Western idea with Sufimysticism where reality is regarded as the illusion produced by the mind andsenses. The essay investigates the possibilities of a double perspective of
  11. 11. Introduction______________________________________________________________xilooking at the problem of the body in the context of technology-in theWestern order the body is disconnected from the external world, while in theEastern it is deeply connected with it, moreover-the body and the externalworld depend on one another.Ayşe Şat (“Human Bodies in Cyberspace”) analyses selectedpornographic website to deconstruct the way our bodies are subject to theIdeological State Apparatus. The outputs from her analysis indicate that bodyimage serves as a controlling mechanism for the global capitalist systemenabling the power groups to control people and social order.The second part of this book presents three articles focused on theemerging practices in social networking:Donata Marletta in her essay (“Hybrid Communities to Digital ArtsFestivals: From Online Discussions to Offline Gatherings”) shows thepossibilities for anthropology of cyberculture or ethnography of media,science and design. The author examines new forms of connectivity andmodes of community forming, especially those connected with the Internetcommunication and a wide spectrum of new media festivals, digital artcompetitions and conferences on ICT and its social impact. The researchperspective presented here sheds new light on parallel online and offlineexistences of digital communities. The essay indicates important factors ofthe evolution of the meaning of virtual communities and cyberspace itself.Nils Gustafsson explores the borders of social tendencies and viralpolitics in his essay (“This Time Its Personal: Social Networks, Viral Politicsand Identity Management”). Social media are analysed here from the point ofview of identity design and management, whereas social networks areregarded as a form of collective gatekeeping of information and post-institutional way of civic self-organisation. The author proposes a new modelof political viral campaign using social media and operational terms as ‘viralpolitics’ and ‘temporal elites’, which are fundamental for the understandingof this communication process.Kristi N. Scott in the essay (“The Second Self through Second Life:Mask or Mirror?”) analyses the psychological aspect of avatars’ creation inthe Second Life environment. The author suggests that it is possible to findpatterns of behaviour which are used by introverts and the patterns that arearticulated and performed by extraverts. Second Life is seen here as a virtualenvironment answering to various psychological needs of different users-helping in many ways to experience the pleasure of interaction, enable self-presentation and self-redefinition. The author examines similarities anddifferences between the psychological paradigms performed in real life andthose realised in virtual second life, especially in Second Life.The book’s third part considers selected issues on the operationalmodels of the cybersubcultures:
  12. 12. Introduction______________________________________________________________xiiVikki Fraser’s paper (“Sex, Sexuality and Cyberspace: IntersectingQueer Spaces on and Offline”) focuses on the discourses analysis of thewebsites that are designed for and used by queer youth. She is interested inthe intersection of both the online and offline social queer worlds. Based onthe outputs from the qualitative research carried out in Australia this paperfocuses on the way discourses of sex operate on websites commonly used byqueer youth. Gaydar ( and Gaydar Girls( serve as a base for her research.Natalia Waechter, Kaveri Subrahmanyam, Stephanie M. Reich andGuadalupe Espinoza in their essay (“The Use of Social Networking Sites andTheir Relation to Users’ Offline Networks”) present results of empiricalresearch on social networking of American teenage users and the modes oftheir activity. Teenagers are eager to use social networking websites as wellas other communication tools which expand their offline social networks butalso let them create online social networks. The researchers study behaviour,attitudes and needs of young Internet users in order to understand thedependencies between their online activity and psycho-sociologicaldevelopment of emerging adults.Bittiandra Chand Somaiah (“Cybergrace among Eating DisorderSurvivors in Singapore”) considers the implications for ethical storytelling.Illness has been understood as learning to cope with lost control. Cyberspacethen to the author might serve as a medium for semblance of lost control. Thepotential impact of online eating disorder support groups and blogs forshaping individual and collective identities has been examined.The fourth part of this book presents papers concerned withvideogames as an art and human-computer interaction design issues in thecontext of the visually impaired:Jef Folkerts concentrates on the issues of perception, interactionand semiosis in the essay (“Playing Games as an Art Experience: HowVideogames Produce Meaning through Narrative and Play”). Game designand playing are regarded here as an important semiotic activity wheremeaning is constructed by designers and constantly reconstructed by players.The issue of imagination produced by games is the core problem analysed bythe author in the context of other kinds of cultural mass production. Gamesare regarded here as the following step of evolution of artificial environmentsused for creation and recreation of social and personal imagination.Anna Maj and Michal Derda-Nowakowski in their essay(“Anthropology of Accessibility: The Perceptual Problems of Human-Computer Interactions”) show the context of accessible design, especially forpeople with visual impairments but also for other groups of users that can bemarginalised by the process of acceleration of the development oftechnology. The authors indicate the fact that nowadays competencies tooperate technologies have become fundamental cultural competencies.
  13. 13. Introduction______________________________________________________________xiiiProblems connected with the ‘proper’ design-which means openness,standardisation, usability and accessibility-are analysed here with thebackground of some influential technological solutions and inventions, and isregarded as an anthropological problem of communication process andinformation flow.The part five examines the selected design issues of multiplayeronline games from the sociological point of view and the second paperincluded analyses the user generated contents in the web 2.0 era:Göknur Bostanci Ege and Nicholas Koullapis (“Social Nature ofTime and Space in Online Games: Designing Fantastic Social Worlds”) areconcerned with the issues of time and space in the multi-user online games inrelation to the World of Warcraft. They examine the user/designer perceptionof the interface and compare the time and space of the WoW with othergames of the same genre and analyse social aspects of these game worlds.Burak Dogu and Zehra Ziraman (“Web Based Authorship in theContext of User Generated Content: An Analysis of a Turkish Website: EksiSozluk”) analyse the online collaborative activities on the popular Turkishwebsite Eksi Sozluk. This site has emerged as a database but is exploited as ablog diary and a web forum at once. The focus is on the attributes of authorscontributing to this web community by reproducing texts.Two papers in the sixth part consider the role of the new mediatechnologies in the frames of education:Daniel Riha (“The 3-D Virtual Library Concept Re-Visited”)discusses the functionalities the Library 2.0 shall deliver with the focus on 3-D library service and analyses the assumptions for the establishing of thelong term user community from the wider historical perspective. The conceptof the 3-D Virtual Library, realized in 2004 for the University of ConstanceLibrary is compared against the actual 3-D library concepts.Theodoros Thomas in his essay (“Cyberculture: Learning NewLiteracies through Machinima”) concentrates on cyberculture teaching, a newcontext of education process and alternative, participatory forms ofknowledge distribution. Basing on realisation of an educational projectconcerning cyberculture and digital literacy, the author analyses problemsand challenges of teaching new media skills. The knowledge of cyberspace,virtual communities and environment, basics of image, video and soundprocessing and digital storytelling skills which was acquired during theacademic course, were later applied by students to prepare their ownmachinima projects.The part seven continues with two chapters devoted to mediaconvergence and digital art:Tatiani G. Rapatzikou analyses an example of the influence ofelectronic texts on the print novel in the essay (“‘Print Novels and the Markof the Digital’: Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions and Media
  14. 14. Introduction______________________________________________________________xivConvergence”). Danielewski’s book, being an experiment in the field ofwriting, editing and typesetting, becomes a signal of mutability regarded hereas a trait of digital culture and interactive media development.The narrationgains new dimensions due to the form of the book, traditionally printed yet‘digital’ in navigational design and demanding an interactive reading process.Tyng Shiuh Yap (“Intermedial Performance: Digital Connectivity”)focuses on some of the conceptual as well as practical issues surrounding theincorporation of intermediality in live performance proven on the case studiesof the practitioners presently based in Australia. Representation orremediation through transcoding involves a reductive process. Thismaterialist idea of translating qualitative values and relations from onemedium to another transposes our conventional idea of meaning creation.Intermedial performance presents an expansion of how we construct andthink about meaning and performance through the process of mediation andremediation.The eight part presents papers that argue about the cyber-policies:Melissa DeZwart and David Lindsay in the essay (“Governance andthe Global Metaverse”) analyse an issue of increasing importance-multidimensional coexistence of juridic systems and digital culture. Theauthors examine various problems, such as ideas and methods of governance,legitimacy and power distribution in the context of 3D virtual worlds, gamesand social networking websites, raising questions on the conditions andimplications of the ways in which cyberlaw functions in different digitalenvironments and also in offline reality of state law. These issues are crucialfor global culture and cybersociety as they concern questions of the codebeing the law itself, freedom of users (or its lack) and the power of serviceproviders.Christina Neumayer, Celina Raffl and Robert M. Bichler in theiressay (“Politics and Social Software: Recommendations for Inclusive ICTs”)reflect on social media potential to strengthen citizen movements throughdisseminating patterns of collaborative creation. The authors suggest thatsocial networking can be more effectively used as a powerful tool forpolitical and ideological purposes and for struggling with the digital divide orother forms of social marginalisation. The authors focus on the inclusive useof new media increasing social power due to various tools such as socialsoftware which may have impact on political activism enabling aparticipatory attitude to social issues.Rasha El-Ibiary (“Mediatisation of Terror in Cyberspace:Scrutinizing Al-Qaeda’s Media Strategy”) analyses Al-Qaeda’s mediastrategy, as central to its military strategy in its fight against the West. Theauthor is assessing the ways it communicates its strategic deeds and proposesthat this media strategy carries the seeds for its failure due to the inherent
  15. 15. Introduction______________________________________________________________xvcontradictions in its propaganda messages, the absence of legitimate goals,and the inability of its virtual activity to substitute for the real world.
  16. 16. PART ITheories and Concepts of Cyberspace and Cyberculture
  17. 17. Redefining the Body in Cyberculture:Arts Contribution to a New Understanding of EmbodimentÂli Yurtsever and Umut Burcu TasaAbstractThe advance of digital technologies and evolution of cyberculture have reju-venated Modernity’s Cartesian dream of the pure mind achieving an uncondi-tional freedom by leaving the body behind. The body, now more than ever, isperceived as another object in the external materiality where, as the lineageof Western thought so obstinately insists, the Truth is to be found. Easterntraditions like Sufi mysticism, on the other hand, offer a stark alternative; thephysical reality is dismissed as illusion, the search for the Truth is essentiallyinternal, and the self is not a segregated and detached entity but is an ever-interconnected part of the whole. We argue that leveraging both on the an-cient wisdom of the East and the immense success of science and technologyof the West, cyberculture can foster a new human condition of re-embodiment, interconnectivity, and re-unity. We maintain that contemporaryarts, particularly in performative and collaborative forms, have much to con-tribute to this endeavor, and emerging technologies like biomechatronics andneuroprosthetics, which are acclaimed by some for their assumed contribu-tion to the ideal of disembodiment, might be exploited by artists to promote anew understanding of embodiment and humanity’s interconnectedness withthe rest of the existence.Key Words: Art, Body, Cyberculture, Disembodiment, Embodiment, East-ern Mysticism, Sufism*****1. IntroductionThroughout history, human body has played a crucial role in allsearches of humanity to attain a comprehensive meaning for its existence. Ithas also occupied the agendas of cultural, literary, feminist, and cyber theo-ries of the last four decades. Postmodern discourses of cultural studies andcritical theory all seem to be deeply obsessed with it.Body is a baffling concept, which gets more elusive as its techno-logically re-produced versions come around. Embodied experiences in andwith digital technologies transform both the body and consciousness, and thistransformation engenders a whole new series of attributes associated with thebody. We talk about telematically-transmitted bodies, bodies that are im-mersed, extended, composed, substituted, etc.
  18. 18. Redefining the Body in Cyberculture______________________________________________________________4As digitalization becomes an indispensable part of our everydaylives, some of those technologies become like extensions of our bodies, andour bodies develop extensions and synthetic senses through them.1Whileeyeglasses and walking sticks are low-tech examples of bodily extensions,cell phones and robotic arms, can be considered as high-tech ones.This discussion is not unique to the academia; daily news media alsoabounds with articles on the subject. A very current news article in New YorkTimes, for example, was on the transformative effect of map and locationaware applications in mobile phones on our way of thinking, and how thiscould reduce the growth of cells in the hippocampus, which is a part of thebrain.2So, it is already a well-established fact that digital technologiestransform both our bodies and our consciousness. What is now in question ishow to design and utilize these technologies, and how to place our bodieswithin? The answers to these questions will have an immediate impact on ourfuture.The technologies, both their development, and their comprehension,and the way our bodies’ interact with them, have been shaped by westernlineage of thinking. So in order to understand the roots of how we compre-hend our bodies today, and our existence within cyber technologies, wewould like to present a brief historical overview of body in western tradition.2. Body in WestThe performance artist Caroleen Schenemann proposed that thebody is where all the splits in Western Culture occur.3The origins of the splitbetween the soul and the body go back to Ancient Greece. Then it continuesin Christianity, Enlightenment and Modernity, in one form or another. In theClassical era, the body was subordinated to the soul, which was a rationalsoul then.4The body was a tomb for the soul according to Plato, and accord-ing to Socrates, pure knowledge could only be achieved by freeing oneselffrom the body.5 6Since then, the body has been conceived as something wehave, rather than something we are. Early Christianity also adopted the An-cient Greek notion of the body-soul dualism with a little twist that the bodywas now sinful.In 1637, René Descartes, arguably the most predominant forerunnerof the Enlightenment, separated the body from the mind once and for all, andsubjugated the body to the power of reason, to the power of mind. In duecourse, the body-soul dichotomy of Antiquity and Medieval Christianitywould be converted into the “body-mind duality” or the “Cartesian Split” asit has come to be known. Dichotomy between the “rational soul” and “vesselbody”, which culminates in the Cartesian body-mind duality of the Enlight-enment, forms the basis of the ever-persistent idea of Modernity that the selfresides in the mind not the body. The body is, therefore, externalized and
  19. 19. Âli Yurtsever and Umut Burcu Tasa______________________________________________________________5objectified, and subjugated to the mind only to be perceived as another objectin the external materiality where, as the lineage of Western thought so obsti-nately insists, the Truth is to be found.The body, either sinful or weak, is a temporal, an “external thing” tocontrol, shape up, and fix. It is viewed as a mechanism, and the bodily func-tions are perceived as algorithm-based procedures that can be imitated bysome proper mechanical apparatus.The vision of Enlightenment that the rational mind reigns over thebody, and therefore shall not be bound and limited by it, has been revivedwith the introduction of digital technologies and the consequent evolution ofCyberculture. Out in the vastness of cyberspace, it initially seemed that themind/body segregation of the West has just found the right “media” to reachits ultimate goal: the utopian dream of the pure mind achieving an uncondi-tional freedom through disembodiment.Beginning from the 1980s, the “myth of disembodiment” was thenew evangelic way to “escape from our embodied world” to an alternativecyber-reality, fostered in the dreams of AI specialists as well as non-technicalvirtual communities.7Within a decade, Barlow would declare the cyberspaceas a “new civilization of Mind”, a civilization of identities who left theirbodies behind.8In those days, while Virtual Reality (VR), networking technologies,and cyberspace were re-enforcing the dream of a pure disembodiment, robot-ics and cybernetics were generating the idea of the cyborg. And both of theserepresented the pure domination of mind over body, and its right to transformand replace it.We argue that, this approach to the body, and in turn to humanity,and in turn designing today’s technologies accordingly, is problematic and analternative perspective is necessary. And we argue that, Eastern thinking canmaintain a different point of view, which is summarized very briefly.3. Body in EastMystical teachings like Taoism, Zen, and Buddhism of the ancientEast, and Sufism of Islam, all elaborate body-mind duality in one form or theother. Yet the dualities of the East are fundamentally different from those ofthe West: opposite principles of a dichotomy do not exclude each other; evenat the very extreme, each polarity is still reminiscent of its opposite twin. Thedualities of the East are, therefore, mutually inclusive; the opposites are in-terdependent on and intertwined with each other, and it is not simply possibleto conceive any one of them in solitary existence. So contrary to the Westernthought, it is not possible to let go of the body, according to the East.At this point, an objection may arise. In many forms of religiousmysticism, particular teachings and rituals can be read as asserting that thedestruction of the body is a way to return to this universal unity. However,
  20. 20. Redefining the Body in Cyberculture______________________________________________________________6that would be a rather simplistic interpretation. In any of these traditions, theactual target of destruction, if there is any, is not the body, but the ego, or theindividual self, which thrives within the territorial demarcations, set by thebody. In any of these texts, there is no hatred for the body itself. The aim is tolet go of the self, the individuation, the weaknesses of the ego, which is thereason of separation from unity.According to Taoism, having a body is a good thing, because it isthe means of one’s existence; but it also subjects one to “evils and misfor-tunes.” 9The reason why the body subjects one to evils is not because thebody itself is evil, but because, the body sets the boundaries of the selfhood,separates us from the whole. The evil is the separation; the self; so it is whatshould be let go.Both in Buddhist practices of meditation, and in Sufi rituals, the ex-periences are basically body-centric and somatic, and require full bodyawareness. 10Without the body, the practices, the rituals could not be ful-filled. Besides, Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, sees the human bodyas the manifestation of God’s names and attributes. 11To conclude, the underlying theme of the Eastern mystical thought,is the concept of unity in the universe. Every physical and spiritual being areinterconnected parts of this Oneness.4. Embodied TechnologyOn this plane we live in our bodies. The body embodies conscious-ness, and it is our primary means of interaction with the rest of existencearound us. We believe that, a new approach to technology, leveraging bothon the ancient wisdom of the East and the immense success of science andtechnology of the West can foster a new human condition: A condition of re-embodiment, interconnectivity, and re-unity.Contrary to the popularity of disembodiment dreams, we see thatscholars and scientists from various disciplines have generated an enormousliterature on embodiment. Especially during the past two decades. The con-cept embodiment emphasizes that the materiality of the body does not neces-sarily make it an object among other objects.12VR technologies, for instance,have been utilized for embodied simulation systems in education and enter-tainment, and in psychological treatment.13The embodied approach is particularly inevitable in the field of in-teraction design, and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Because when weassume the role of a user in our relationship with technology, the body of theuser becomes the first constraint that a designer must take into account.14Another remarkable example comes from textile engineering. By theapplication of nanotechnology, there is now an extreme sport called wing suitflying, which is the art of flying without using anything but one’s own bodydressed in a special suit called the “bird-man suit”. This special suit reduces
  21. 21. Âli Yurtsever and Umut Burcu Tasa______________________________________________________________7the falling velocity of a skydiver to eliminate the need for a parachute, andmakes a significant amount of horizontal flight possible.15As the technologydevelops, further decreases in fall velocity and increases in horizontal flightare expected, which may then prompt even the possibility of a safe landingwithout a parachute, and actualize the human beings’ eternal dream of flyinglike a bird.Besides the existing embodied experiments in technology, in orderto integrate the Eastern approach into the development of technology and ourdaily lives, we argue that, art has quite the potential to offer a strategy andreveal alternative ways to further embodied designs of new technologies.5. Art and Re-EmbodimentArt as an experimental research method is relatively superior toother disciplines in the sense that, it can utilize unconventional systems ofknowledge that are unacceptable by other fields.16That is basically the reasonwhy it can remarkably suggest alternative, innovative and humanistic scenar-ios for the development of technology.Simultaneously with the spread of digital technologies, contempo-rary art has witnessed countless number of works that are inspired by ancientEastern teachings, and by the interconnected, collaborative and rhizomaticnature of Cyberspace. And in turn they produced visionary theories and alter-native practices on how digital technologies could shape human body andconsciousness. And they had their share in the “Body in the Cyberspace”debate.A forerunner example is Char Davies’ immersive Virtual Realitypiece Osmose (1994). In this piece, the participant wears a stereoscopic head-mounted display (HMD) and a motion-capture vest equipped with breath andbalance sensors. Using breath and body balance, the participator undertakesan immersive and fully embodying virtual journey through the HMD. Theresponses of the participator were recorded similar to the “reactions gener-ated during traditionally induced altered states of consciousness.”17The piecealso evokes the state of mindfulness in Buddhism, since it attempts to stopthe mind from being on an autopilot.18This and similar works’ capability to provoke altered states of con-sciousness tell us that, we might hope to utilize technology for creating sha-manic consciousness states, in some way.Camille Baker is another media artist and a researcher we would liketo mention. For embodiment via technology, she has explored biosensors andwearable computing technologies in media art. She developed a device calledThe Pod (2004), which utilizes biofeedback technology, meditation, yoga andmultimedia. Similar to Osmose, The Pod also creates a virtual experience ofre-embodiment and altered states of consciousness in participants. Baker
  22. 22. Redefining the Body in Cyberculture______________________________________________________________8makes experiments of alternative communication systems like telepathy us-ing The Pod, and gets promising results. 19Wearable computing and mobile communications, movement detec-tion, gesture recognition and sensor technologies have been quite popular ininteractive art installations, thanks to the opportunities they offer for audienceparticipation and embodiment.The final artist to mention is the performance artist Suzan Kozel.She also explores how future generations of digital devices, as they becomeour extensions, may expand new physical and conscious awareness states. 20She also gets use of wearables, mobile technology, networking, and biofeed-back.6. ConclusionParaphrasing Alan Watts, technology should be designed and util-ized not to alienate us from our bodies and from the nature of our existence,but to raise our awareness to a new state, a state where we can grasp that weare the one and the same process as the universe.Contemporary arts, particularly in performative and collaborativeforms that embrace all key attributes of the cyberspace like connectivity,immersion, interaction, transformation and emergence, have much to con-tribute to this endeavor.21And emerging technologies like biomechatronics,neuroprosthetics and alike, which are acclaimed by various cyber-subculturesfor their assumed contribution to the ideal of disembodiment, might be ex-ploited by artists to promote a new understanding of embodiment and human-ity’s interconnectedness with the rest of the existence.Notes1R Malina, ‘A Forty-Year Perspective on Aesthetic Computing in theLeonardo Journal’, in Aesthetic Computing, P A Fishwick (ed), The MITPress, Cambridge, MA, 2006, p. 43.2J Markoff, ‘The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives’, in The New York Times,16 February 2009, viewed on February 2009,<>.3Carolee Schneemann quoted in T Warr & A Jones, The Artist’s Body:Themes and Movements, Phaidon Press, London, 2000, p. 17.4F Youde, ‘Body and Soul: Comparative Studies in Biblical Judaism, GreekPhilosophy and Medieval Christianity’, Proceedings of The Twenty-FirstWorld Congress of Philosophy, Istanbul, 2003.
  23. 23. Âli Yurtsever and Umut Burcu Tasa______________________________________________________________95S Dixon, Digital Performance, A History of New Media in Theater, Dance,Performance Art, and Installation, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007, p.212.6Youde op. cit.7J D Bolter & D Gromala, Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design,Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA,2003, pp. 119-124.8J P Barlow, ‘Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace’, 8 February,1996, viewed on 1 February 2009,<>.9E M Chen, The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary,Paragon House, St. Paul, MN, 1989, p. 72.10B H Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English, Wisdom Publications,Somerville, MA, 2002, p. 58.11S Kugle, Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Myticism, Corpreality, and SacredPower in Islam, The University of North Caroline Press, Chapel Hill, 2007,p. 30.12Kugle, op. cit., p. 13.13Bolter & Gromala, op. cit., pp. 124-126.14Bolter & Gromala, op. cit., p. 129.15Wikipedia, viewed on 1 February 2009,<>.16E A Shanken, ‘From Cybernetics to Telematics: the Art, Pedagogy, andTheory of Roy Ascott’, in Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art,Technology and Consciousness, E A Shanken (ed), University of CaliforniaPress, Berkeley, 2003, pp. 1-95.17C Davies, ‘Changing Space: Virtual Reality As an Arena of EmbodiedBeing’, 1997, viewed on 1 February 2009,<>.18L McRobert, Char Davies’ Immersive Virtual Art and the Essence ofSpatiality, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2007, p. 8919C Baker, ‘Biosensor and Media Art-Induced Meditation and Telepathy’,Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 2004, Vol. 12, No. 11, available at:<>20S Kozel, Closer: Performance, Technologies, Phenomenology, The MITPress, Cambridge, MA, 2007.21R Ascott, ‘Technoetic Pathways toward the Spiritual in Art: ATransdisciplinary Perspective on Connectedness, Coherence andConsciousness’, Leonardo, 2006, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 65-69.
  24. 24. Redefining the Body in Cyberculture______________________________________________________________10BibliographyAscott, R., ‘Technoetic Pathways toward the Spiritual in Art: ATransdisciplinary Perspective on Connectedness, Coherence andConsciousness’. Leonardo, 2006, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 65-69.Baker, C., ‘Biosensor and Media Art-Induced Meditation and Telepathy’.Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 2004, Vol: 12, No.11,<>.Barlow, J. P., ‘Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace’. 8 February,1996, viewed on 1 February 2009,<>.Bolter, J. D. & D. Gromala, Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design,Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA,2003.Chen, E. M., The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary.Paragon House, St. Paul, MN, 1989.Davies, C., ‘Changing Space: Virtual Reality As an Arena of EmbodiedBeing’. 1997, viewed on 1 February 2009,<>.Dixon, S., Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance,Performance Art, and Installation. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007.Gunaratana, B. H., Mindfulness in Plain English. Wisdom Publications,Somerville, MA, 2002.Kozel, S., Closer: Performance, Technologies, Phenomenology. The MITPress, Cambridge, MA, 2007.Kugle, S., Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Myticism, Corpreality, and SacredPower in Islam. The University of North Caroline Press, Chapel Hill, 2007.Malina, R., ‘A Forty-Year Perspective on Aesthetic Computing in theLeonardo Journal’, in Aesthetic Computing. P. A. Fishwick (ed), The MITPress, Cambridge, MA, 2006.
  25. 25. Âli Yurtsever and Umut Burcu Tasa______________________________________________________________11Markoff, J.,‘The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives’. The New York Times, 16February 2009, viewed on February 2009,<>.McRobert, L., Char Davies’ Immersive Virtual Art and the Essence ofSpatiality. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2007.Shanken, E. A., ‘From Cybernetics to Telematics: The Art, Pedagogy, andTheory of Roy Ascott’, in Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art,Technology and Consciousness. E. A. Shanken (ed). University of CaliforniaPress, Berkeley, 2003, pp. 1-95.Warr, T. & A. Jones, The Artist’s Body: Themes and Movements. PhaidonPress, London, 2000.Wikipedia, viewed on 1 February 2009,<>.Youde, F., ‘Body and Soul: Comparative Studies in Biblical Judaism, GreekPhilosophy and Medieval Christianity’, in Proceedings of The Twenty-FirstWorld Congress of Philosophy, Istanbul, 2003.Âli Yurtsever and Umut Burcu Tasa are scholars in Yıldız TechnicalUniversity, Istanbul, in Faculty of Art and Design.
  26. 26. Human Bodies in CyberspaceAyşe ŞatAbstractThe author William Gibson defined cyberspace in his sci-fi novelNeuromancer as ‘Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clustersand constellations of data.’1It is the global network, which connects millionsof computers and people to exchange the data, news and opinions and for thisthey are using their bodies and minds together. In this virtual world, humanbodies and gender differences have a significant place, because our bodyimages are always an important issue which is subject to cultural, social,economic and political struggles of definitions.Cyberspace is a private place for individuals to play with their own bodyimages, create their own fantasies or imaginative world according to theirdesires or ideas. By using cyberspace, and the human bodies, the globalcapitalism finds a way to spread its power over the world: ‘With thetransition from industrial capitalism to a globalised network based capitalism,the paradigm of gender has changed, our gender differences areintermingled/blurred with each other.’2Thus, this conference paper willanalyse some pornographic pages to show how our bodies are subject to theIdeological State Apparatus.3Consequently, the initial findings of theanalysis will indicate that body images are a kind of tool for the globalcapitalist system or power groups to control people and social order.Key Words: Human Bodies, Cyberspace, Internet, Capitalism, Politics, PornSites, Gender Differences, Slave/Master, Binary Opposition*****1. Introduction: Cyberspace, Body, Biopolitics/BiopowerInternet, which is the one of the significant developments of the 20thcentury, is created by people for people. The author William Gibson definedcyberspace in his sci-fi novel Neuromancer as ‘Lines of light ranged in thenonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights,receding.’4It is the global network, which connects millions of computers andmany countries. People are linked into this virtual world to exchange the data,news and opinions and for this they are using their bodies and minds together.It can be said that, Internet is a kind of social or cultural system andour body images are always an important issue which is subject to cultural,social, economic and political struggles of definitions, because body is one ofthe medium between Internet and physical reality as Merleau-Ponty states ‘Iam conscious of the world through the medium of my body.’5It means that is
  27. 27. Human Bodies in Cyberspace______________________________________________________________14possible to accept the body as vehicle, because my body is an object used tocommunicate with others and perceive things, which are outside of us ‘thebody is the vehicle of being in the world, and having a body is, for a livingcreature, to be intervolved in a definite environment, to identify oneself withcertain projects and be continually committed to them.’6Merleau-Ponty continues and relates body with the mirror ‘everyobject is the mirror of all others’7and on the Internet body as a vehicle is likea mirror or it is a mirror, which reflects our own world and our own bodies. Ifwe accept the body as an object it means that, it reflects of our and otherbodies together. So, our bodies are the mirror of the other bodies, rules andideas.In the (late) twentieth century, I believe it will in the futurebe said, philosophy began to discover that its categories ofreason and knowledge are marked by sexual difference.Feminists have argued that these concepts of reason andknowledge, as well as those of man, history and power, arereflections of gendered practices passing as universal ones.8Duncan adds simply, that ‘reason is male’. Our world is constructed by thisbinary opposition or dominant traditional rules. It seems that man has mindand woman has body and this opposition is related with the mind and bodydualism ‘The major factor in this masculinist formulation of reason has beenmind-body dualism.’9Still some academicians suggest that males and females havedifferences in that men are more powerful than women because they are closeto culture and knowledge and in contrast women are close to nature. In otherwords, women are more sensitive than men. Yet, the current academic worldcontinues to be dominated by the ideology of gender differences or thesuperiority of men. In this technological age human bodies are a kind ofbridge between the outside and the inside of computers and two socialsystems. In this virtual world we have different power relations, which arecontrolled by the micro power groups.In the modern era, the system/power that we are talking about isdefined as ‘Biopolitics’ by Foucault:Foucault needs a new political theory and a new ontology todescribe the new power relations expressed in the politicaleconomy of forces. In effect, biopolitics are ‘grafted’ and‘anchored’ upon a multiplicity of disciplinary […] relationsbetween forces, those which power ‘coordinates,institutionalizes, stratifies and targets,’ but that are notpurely and simply projected upon individuals. […] The
  28. 28. Ayşe Şat______________________________________________________________15relations between man and woman, master and student,doctor and patient, employer and worker that Foucault usesto illustrate the dynamics of the social body are relationsbetween forces that always involve a power relation.10In this global age politics or biopolitics give people opportunities to feel theyfree the creator of their own lives. Also, it tries to work on the groups, whoare working together or affect each other. For example, on the Internet peoplewho are from the different countries can find and meet each other. We canshow porn sites as an example for the ‘multitude forces’, because in thesepages we use our bodies to have sexual relations with others. Therefore, asMichel Maurizio Lazzarato states Foucault’s ideas in his web article ‘life’ and‘life being’ is the most important aspects of the politics:Foucault, through the concept of biopolitics, was alreadypointing out in the seventies what, nowadays, is well on itsway to being obvious: ‘life’ and “living being” [le vivant]are at the heart of new political battles and new economicstrategies. […] In effect, from the 18th Century onwards thedispositifs of power and knowledge begin to take intoaccount the ‘processes of life’ and the possibility ofcontrolling and modifying them.11Technology is related with both power and knowledge because cyberspace isa social network where people share information with each other andeconomic strategies play a good game by using human bodies in this virtualspace. With the technological developments one can see some changes inpower strategies and human bodies.In addition, Michel Maurizio Lazzarato concludes his article byconstructing a relationship between biopolitics and biopower:Biopolitics is the strategic coordination of these powerrelations in order to extract a surplus of power from livingbeings. […] According to Foucault the biopolitical functionsof ‘coordination and determination’ concede that biopower,from the moment it begins to operate in this particularmanner, is not the true source of power. Biopowercoordinates and targets a power that does not properlybelong to it, that comes from the ‘outside.’ Biopower isalways born of something other than itself.12By using Foucault’s ideas, Lazzarato wants to articulate that in generalpolitics use life or body images to gain power over them and develop its
  29. 29. Human Bodies in Cyberspace______________________________________________________________16economic strategies. It seems that this virtual space gives us freedom to playwith our bodies and ideologies, which are gender differences and freedom.The discourse stressed in this article, which is binary opposition, starts tochange its meaning. It seems that in cyberspace binary opposition isintermingled with each other.2. Binary Opposition: Under the Name of LiberationThis section will consist of the analysis of Binary Opposition andhow the ideology tries to take a different shape in this technological age. Inthe book of Homo Sacer, Agamben talks about political ideology and binaryopposition by using political parties. He suggests that binary opposition losesits clarity.In both cases, these transformations were produced in acontext in which for quite some time politics had alreadyturned into biopolitics, and in which the only real questionto be decided was which form of organization would be bestsuited to the task of assuring the care, control, and use ofbare life. Once their fundamental referent becomes bare life,traditional political distinctions (such as those betweenRight and Left, liberalism and totalitarianism, private adpublic) lose their clarity and intelligibility and enter into azone of indistinction.13In this technological age, binary opposition takes a different shape becausecyberspace is a private place for individuals to play with their own bodyimages, create their own fantasies or an imaginative world according to theirown desires or ideas.Moreover, because of the political strategies, binary opposition hasbegan to be intermingled or fused with each other. In this virtual mirror wecan see the physical reality and our own realities, which are created by us.During the process of the creation we start to add new things or change theorder by using our bodies and we can say that ‘Social values are embedded inbodies,’14therefore ‘bodies move and recreate themselves’, on the Internet,which are used by the small powerful groups/companies, biopowers orindividuals and in this way ‘power constructs bodies.’15Therefore, cyberspacehas many different power structures or social control groups. Some of themare based on people (individuals) some of them are based on public groupsbut still we have power. In other words, in this virtual space we create ourown power structure and we play with it and we think that we can control ourown bodies and wishes and become the master of our own creations.
  30. 30. Ayşe Şat______________________________________________________________173. Slave and Master, and Gender DifferencesIt seems that binary opposition is demolished and we are free. ForFoucault, freedom is related the irony of liberation as he mentions in the firstvolume of his ‘History of Sexuality’.Moreover, we need to consider the possibility that one day,perhaps, in a different economy of bodies and pleasures,people will no longer quite understand how the ruses ofsexuality, and the power that sustains its organization, wereable to subject us to that austere monarchy of sex, so that webecame dedicated to the endless task of forcing its secret, ofexacting the truest of confessions from a shadow. The ironyof this deployment is in having us believe that our‘liberation’ is in the balance.16In this part Foucault talks about the future and the capitalist system, and howthe system plays a game with us like a toy? He argues that we are free, in factnot. We just think that we are master and we can talk about liberation but inreality, we are a slave of the system. We are just living in a dreamland, whichis Cyberspace.On the one hand, those web pages let us to think of the virtual spaceas a coin. It is one but it has two sides, because, we are free and a slave at thesame time. One side of it shows us that we are free we can control our ownbodies, for example we can create different bodies, but at the same time we arenot free because we need other bodies. At the end, when we shut down yourcomputer, you are the same person within the same body. It means that politicsmakes us a slave and a master at the same time. You think that you are masterof your body, because you can play with it as a toy and you have many bodieswhen you open different web pages, and you can even create different bodies.But you are not free because at the end when you turn off your computer youuse the same body. You create different bodies by using the same body.It is this possible through the Cyberspace to have a chance to chatwith and meet different people, with different identities and bodies. You caneven learn new fantasies, stories and satisfy your sexual desires. Most of thepornographic web pages can be shown are prime examples. Here, it ispossible to feel the torture, bondage and submission, and sexual relations. Thefollowing are typical examples:171. 2. 3. wannawatch.com4. 5. 6. eskimotube.com7. 8.
  31. 31. Human Bodies in Cyberspace______________________________________________________________18This short article will analyze the first two porn sites listed above, to showthat the body which belongs to the human beings is controlled by the powerstructure. These web pages are the most popular porn sites. Both sites startwith a statement such as ‘Sexual Content Warning.’ After that you can seethe body images of men and women. Both sites have the same format,because most of the body images belong to women with the male sexualorgan. It is possible to see different races form the different ethnic groups.One can see some visual body/sexual scenes or trailers, but if you want to seethe full video you have to pay. They ask for membership type or paymenttype and other kinds of personal information such as First / Last Name, Zip /Postal Code, Country, Email, Membership Type (3 Day Trial - $4.95, and 1Month - $24.95, Payment Type (Credit Card, Check).This suggests not only that the habits of looking at Internetpornography are as constitutive of the viewing experience asthe images themselves but, likewise, that these habits oflooking insistently participate in inscribing power relationsand social relations directly on to the body of the subjectthrough gesture and repetition.18In short we are living in a dreamland and we think that we are free to makeour decisions and satisfy our own sexual desires. However, as it is clearlyseen from these pornographic sites, we are being controlled by the pornindustry as Zabet points out in his article Going On-line: ConsumingPornography in the Digital Era.A subset of the cyberporn industry is devoted to thecategorization and classification of these images and Websites; these sites present categories of images, laid out intables or allowing so-called key term searches. The ‘clickhere if you’re gay!’ button, like the ‘s/m’ button, indicates atechnology of desire both productive and regulatory.19Moreover, those web pages clarify that Internet gives us chance to play withour money and our bodies under the name of freedom and these technologicalchanges effect the political body and some of our discourses.4. Conclusion: We are playing the Game of the Global CapitalistSystemWhen we look at the statistical information, people most often liketo surf on the Pornographic web pages, because as Foucault points out‘Broadly speaking, at the juncture of the ‘body’ and the ‘population’, sex
  32. 32. Ayşe Şat______________________________________________________________19became a crucial target of a power organized around the management of liferather than the menace of death.’20Hence, ‘the mechanisms of power were infact used more to arouse and ‘excite’ sexuality than to repress it.’21Internetgives us a chance to feel ourselves free, because we can recreate our ownbodies and identities according to our wishes. Instead of repressing our sexualdesires and our wishes, we start to create our own realities, and experience newfantasies.It can be argued that by using cyberspace, and the human bodies, theglobal capitalism finds a way to spread its power over the world as one of theFeminist Dialogues Form states in their web page ‘With the transition fromindustrial capitalism to a globalised network based capitalism, the paradigm ofgender has changed.’22For example, when we look at web pages we can saythat our body images (male and female) and our gender differences areintermingled/blurred with each other. That is related to capitalism as Foucaultstates in his book ‘This bio-power was without question an indispensableelement in the development of capitalism: the latter would not have beenpossible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery ofproduction and the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economicprocesses.’23It means that in this century we talk about the free flow ofinformation, human bodies and money, as some people write on in their blogs:Loren - February 5th, 2009 at 10:47 am PST: really the 12%was very true in 2006 and the 2.8 billion was not low backthen they were talking about 2006 i did my research i alsowork in thsi massive industry today the the industry isaround a $100.00 billion a year industry thats talking aboutall countrys and the truth of the matter is its just going togrow even bigger and thats good news for me […]’. Andshe continues to talk about USA: Loren - February 7th,2009 at 7:47 am PST : yeah right nyou crazy if you dontthink thats true the usa is the money hungry capital of theworld and thats really what it all boils down to money porn= money i would not star in a porn film but i sure wouldpromote it because of the money i think its funny peoplethat say they would never look at porn i fine that funnycause everyone has sex what do you think that is and peoplewill date someone then they break up now there screwingsomeone else and lets get it right people cheat in americaalot so come porn is everywere were all porn stars in ourown way.24On the one hand, we can say that because of our satisfaction and oureconomical needs we can not see the real power of capitalist system. Only we
  33. 33. Human Bodies in Cyberspace______________________________________________________________20live and help it to be more powerful. On the other hand, it changes our ethicalrules, our ideas towards sex give us visual and verbal education that wepreciously got from the books, movies and people. However, nowadays westart to get it from the cyberspace. It can be argued that we start to understandour sexual desires, instead of repressing them and start to arouse and use themfor money. In other words, we can talk about a dual satisfaction: sexual andeconomical.Consequently, it is possible to suggest that ‘certain institutional andcultural practices have produced individuals.’25Therefore, new politics (freemarket and economics) bring new body images with themselves. If cyberspaceis a limitless and new universe26, our body images become just like toys for thecapitalist or global system to either control our bodies or to give us a chance tofeel free and redefine our gender differences: ‘The body must be regarded as asite of social, political, cultural, and geographical inscriptions, production, orconstitution. The body is not opposed to culture, a resistant throwback to anatural past; it is itself a cultural, the cultural, product.27Therefore, it can besaid that new politics (Internet=free market) bring the new body politics withthemselves. Bodies become just like toys, and are inside or outside of the lawor rules and discourses.Notes1W Gibson, Neuromancer, New York, Ace Books, 1984, pp. 69.2Written by Administrator, Feminist Dialogues-Sub-Theme Two:Fundamentalism and Body Politics, 16 January 2007, August 2008, Link:<>.3L Althusser, ‘Lenin and Philosophy’ and Other Essays by Louise Althusser,in Modern Literary Theory. P Rice and P Waugh (eds), Arnold, 1996, pp. 53-61.4W Gibson, Neuromancer, Ace Books, New York, 1984, pp. 69.5M Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge, 2007, pp. 94-5.6M Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge, 2007, pp. 94-5.7M Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge, 2007, pp. 79.8N Duncan, BodySpace, Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality,Routledge, 1996, pp. 14.9N Duncan, BodySpace, Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality,Routledge, 1996, pp. 14.10M Lazzarato, From Biopower to Biopolitcs, 2007, August 2008, Link:<>.
  34. 34. Ayşe Şat______________________________________________________________2111M Lazzarato, From Biopower to Biopolitcs, 2007, August 2008, Link:<>.12M Lazzarato, From Biopower to Biopolitcs, 2007, August 2008, Link:<>.13G Agamben, Homo Sacer, Chicago Press, 2005, pp. 121-122.14M Gatens, Imaginary Bodies, Ethics, Power and Corporeality, Routledge,1996, pp. 60-75.15M Gatens, Imaginary Bodies, Ethics, Power and Corporeality, Routledge,1996, pp. 60-75.16M Foucault, History of Sexuality Vol.1, Vintage Books, 1978, pp. 159.17M Arrington, Internet Pornography Stats, 12 May 2007, June 2008, Link:<>.18Z Patterson, ‘Going On-line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era’,Porn Studies. Williams (ed), 2004, pp. 104-123.19E Grosz, Volatile Bodies, Indiana University Press, 1994, pp. 80.20M Foucault, History of Sexuality Vol.1, Vintage Books, 1978, pp. 147.21M Foucault, History of Sexuality Vol.1, Vintage Books, 1978, pp. 151.22Written by Administrator, Feminist Dialogues-Sub-Theme Two:fundamentalism and Body Politics, 16 January 2007, August 2008, Link:<>.23M Foucault, History of Sexuality Vol.1, Vintage Books, 1978, pp. 141.24M Arrington, Internet Pornography Stats, 12 May 2007, June 2008, Link:<>.25J Sawicki, Disciplining Foucault: Feminism, Power, and the Body, KindleBook, 1991.26M Benedikt, ‘Cyberspace First Steps’, Cyberspace, David Bell and BarbaraM. Kennedy, (eds), Routledge, 2000, pp. 29-44.27E Grosz, Volatile Bodies, Indiana University Press, 1994, pp. 23.BibliographyAgamben, G., Homo Sacer. Chicago Press, London, 2005.Althusser, L., ‘Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays’, in Modern LiteraryTheory. P. Rice and P. Waugh (eds), Arnold, 1996. pp. 53-61.Arrington, M., ‘Internet Pornography Stats’, 12 May 2007, June 2008, Link:<>.
  35. 35. Human Bodies in Cyberspace______________________________________________________________22Benedikt, M., ‘Cyberspace: First Steps’ in Cyberspace. D. Bell and B. M.Kennedy (eds), Routledge, 2000, pp. 29-44.Duncan, N., BodySpace: Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality.Routledge, London and New York, 1996.Michel, F., History of Sexuality Vol.1. New York: Vintage Books, 1978.Gatens, M., Imaginary Bodies, Ethics, Power and Corporeality. Routledge,New York, 1996.Gibson, W., Neuromancer. Ace Books, New York, 1984.Grosz, E., Volatile Bodies. Indiana University Press, 1994.Lazzarato, M., From Biopower to Biopolitcs. 2007.Link: <>.Merleau-Ponty, M., Phenomenology of Perception. Routledge, New York,2007.Ortner, B. S., ‘Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?’, in A CulturalStudies Reader: History, Theory, Practice. J. Munnns and G. Rajan (eds),Longman, London and New York, 1995, pp. 491-509.Sawicki, J., Disciplining Foucault: Feminism, Power, and the Body. KindleEdition, Kindle Book, 1991.Patterson, Z., ‘Going On-line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era’, inPorn Studies. Williams (ed), 2004, pp. 104-123.Ayşe Şat is Senior Lecturer in Girne American University. She is completingher PhD in the communication field. Her research interest is Cyberspace, andthe relationship between cyberspace and philosophy.
  36. 36. PART IIOnline Communities, Web 2.0 and EmergingPractices In Social Networking
  37. 37. Hybrid Communities to Digital Arts Festivals:From Online Discussions to Offline GatheringsDonata MarlettaAbstractThe aim of this paper is to contribute to blurring the gap between virtualcommunities and communities based on face-to-face embodied interaction,trying to deconstruct the obsolete online/offline dichotomy. Since the 1990sthe concept of virtual community has changed and has been substituted by afluid perception, where informational and physical contacts co-exist.Computer networks allow people to create a whole range of new socialspaces in which they interact with one another. Through the use of interactionmedia people have formed thousands of groups to discuss different topics,create knowledge, and share mutual interests. Virtual community represents aform of post-modern community, characterised by the liberation of theindividual from social constraints such as identity, ethnicity, social status andgeographical space. In order to reinforce the disembodied relations builtaround the Internet discussions, members of virtual communities feel theneed to meet during more embodied face-to-face gatherings. In such acontext of continuous change and innovation, I am following digital artscommunities, which make use of both cyberspace and physical space asplaces for interaction, collaboration, and connectivity. Global gatherings suchas festivals devoted to art and technology play a critical role in themaintenance and nourishment of these social groups. International eventssuch as Ars Electronica, Elektra or Transmediale draw people from all overthe world; they represent both valuable forums and platforms for artists andintellectuals, and a unique chance for the participants to migrate from thecyberspace to a physical space.Key Words: Community, Online, Offline, Cyberspace, Festival, Digital Art.*****In order to gain a wider overview of the concept of community, Ibelieve that it is crucial to go back and re-discover the genesis and theevolution of this notion, and how it has been conceptualised within theliterature among scholars from different disciplines.Historically the notion of community has been associated with thenotion of geographical place. In his seminal work Gemeinschaft undGesellschaft the German sociologist Tönnies was one of the first authors whoconceptualised community and its characteristics. According to thetransformations in the organisation of social life that emerged as a
  38. 38. Hybrid Communities to Digital Arts Festivals______________________________________________________________26consequence of the ascendancy of modernity, Tönnies makes a cleardistinction between two types of social groups: Gemeinschaft (Community)and Gesellschaft (Society). Gemeinschaft is characterised by natural will, andan organic sense of community, and Gesellschaft is characterised by rationalwill, and by a sense of individualism rather than communal. Tönnies is verycritical towards Gesellschaft, in which he sees a form of social organisationbased on hyper-individualism, which causes abandonment of collectivememory, instinct, and habits.1Within the anthropological literature it is worthy of note the notionof community developed by Turner. The anthropologist differentiatesbetween society and community, the two main models for humaninterrelatedness. Society, or societas, is a highly structured and hierarchicalsystem; community, on the other hand, is an unstructured and heterogeneousgroup of equal individuals, however soon it develops a structure. Turnerlooks at community within the wider context of the “rites of passage”, andclaims that during these rites a particular kind of comradeship emerges as aproduct of interstructural liminality. This group is a community or comity ofcomrades, and Turner uses the Latin noun communitas to identify such agroup, which is characterised by absence of hierarchical structure,transcending any distinctions of status, age and kinship position. Members ofcommunitas are linked together by special bonds that persist during the years,after the rites of passage are over.2Turner claims that existential orspontaneous communitas exist not only in preliterate and preindustrialsocieties, but also in complex modern societies, where the values ofcommunitas are present within groups such as the beat generation and thehippies. Members of these groups stress personal relationships rather thansocial obligations, and emphasise spontaneity and immediacy.3Many scholars concerned with the emergence of online communitieshave taken into consideration the concept of imagined communitiesformulated by Anderson in relation to the appearance of nationalisms.According to Anderson the nation:It is an imagined political community - an imagined as bothinherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined becausemembers of even the smallest nation will never know mostof their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them,yet in the minds of each lives the image of theircommunion.4This notion can without a doubt be transferred to the cyberspace, whererelationships between participants to online communities are not based onface-to-face interaction; instead these members hold in their minds a mentalimage of their affinity, and develop a sense of fraternity. Here I would argue
  39. 39. Donata Marletta______________________________________________________________27that although face-to-face and online communities have their ownspecificities and peculiarities, they should not be regarded as separaterealities. Instead these communities exist in a kind of symbiosis, nourishingand complementing each other.The quintessential definition of virtual communities has beenprovided by Rheingold, in which he describes these social groups as “socialaggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on …public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form websof personal relationships in cyberspace”.5Today, fifteen years after its firstformulation, this notion has to be re-adapted according to the ongoingevolution of both media and society.Within the field of critical cyberculture studies Fung claims thatonline communities in a certain way reproduce real life; in order to survivethese communities need to anchor and refer some of their features within‘real’ daily life. In this sense it is impossible to disengage cyberspace fromthe real embodied space when the online setting is mostly modelled fromreal-world settings. Giving that real life can also be changed, distorted, ormerged with cyberlife, studies of online communities should examinewhether the remote and virtual interest of subjects realised in online space islinked to the everyday sense and complexity of human nature.6Cyberspacedoes not represent an alternative to social reality, and then should not beunderstood as a separate realm, but rather as part of our existing reality.There is a complex constant process of interaction between our experiencesof the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’, what is becoming clear is the need of anepistemological framework able to speak about this complex online/offlineinterplay.Baym holds a similar position, and argues that it is unquestionablethat online relationships do develop in ways that are to some extent differentfrom face-to-face relationships. She refers to language for instance, written orspoken, which is privileged over visual cues, and claims that geographicalproximity is no longer considered a limiting element. Relationships of anykind are inevitably still built on mutual attraction, created through commoninterests, easiness of interaction, and running into one another in the samepublic spaces, even if those spaces are now virtual and intangible rather thanmaterial. Most of the researchers interested in studying online settings do notreally look at cyberspace as a separate, detached place that stands inopposition to the real world. Baym stresses this point and claims:How online spaces are constructed and the activities thatpeople do online are intimately interwoven with theconstruction the offline world and the activities andstructures in which we participate, whether we are using theInternet or not. Offline contexts always permeate and
  40. 40. Hybrid Communities to Digital Arts Festivals______________________________________________________________28influence online situations and online situations andexperiences always feed back into offline experiences.7The emergence and the construction of cyberspace, and consequently theappearance of new forms of virtual social ties between people make itnecessary to rethink the classical notion of society, especially the notion of‘city’, historically marked as a complex place of social interaction, which hasalso been considered as the place where these ties emerge, are nourished andreproduced. This idea has been reviewed, reconfigured and readapted to thecontemporary context where the emergence of cyberspace has becomeubiquitous. The Greek polis regarded as the prototype of the classical city andits vital elements, e.g. the agora, as a public space for different urbanfunctions, appear translated into new types of virtual and non-virtual realities.The agora, usually located at the very centre of the town site, was thegathering place and the focal point of community life in the ancient Greekcity-state. Its functions were diverse ranging from serving as a meeting placefor political assemblies, and outdoor market, to venue for festal processionsand athletic displays.The parallel between the critical role-played by the Net in thetwenty-first century and the function of the agora in the life of the Greekpolis has frequently been used in several studies of cyberspace to emphasiseits main characteristics of electronic social space and point of exchange.Mitchell observes that the worldwide computer network represents theelectronic or virtual agora which, giving its distinct structure andorganisation, drastically redefines the standard notions of gathering place,community and urban life.8Geographer Crang similarly defines the publicspace of the virtual city as an electronic agora that consists of the sameelements as the agora of the classical Greek city. This new form of intangiblespace is the point where conventional orderings and rules break down andcollapse.9In representing cyberspace as the new virtual agora, Ostwaldargues that ‘the urban’ itself has become virtualised, simulating the socialfunction of the agora as a potential ‘site of cultural seepage’; a place to wherepeople can escape to find comfort in a virtual environment.10Here, oncemore, the border between the virtual and the real has become blurred, makingthe distinction almost imperceptible.Watson claims that, as a consequence of the proliferation ofcommunication via computer, new modes of apprehending community haveemerged. In Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) physical space hasbeen replaced by a technology, a medium of communication. Consequently,it is claimed, the concept of community should be re-defined in terms ofshared relationships between people rather than in terms of shared space.11Wellman and Gulia, for example, argue that online relationships are basedmore on shared interests and less on shared social characteristics. As a
  41. 41. Donata Marletta______________________________________________________________29consequence online communities result relatively homogeneous in terms ofinterests and attitudes, and relatively heterogeneous in terms of socialcharacteristics such as age, social status, gender, and ethnicity. Thehomogeneity of interests entails that participants can foster high levels ofempathetic understanding and reciprocal support. Furthermore, by supportingsuch online contact, the Net may even encourage more frequent face-to-facemeetings between those who might otherwise forget about each other.12Jones stresses that cyberspace is a socially constructed space, onethat represents a new kind of space that is not physical, and for this reasonchallenges the traditional notion of community that emphasises thegeographical proximity. In his view community is no longer a place; itconsists of social networks and social interaction. In defining onlinecommunity the author uses the concept of social networks primarily becausesuch definition is mainly based on social interaction, shifting the focus awayfrom place.13These new social groups represent a form of post-moderncommunity characterised by the liberation of the individual from socialconstraints such as identity and geographical space. It should be noted thatwithin these groups participants promote a sense of brotherhood among eachother, and in order to fortify the disembodied and abstract relations, and tohelp participants to stay in touch, members of virtual communities feel theneed to meet, sporadically or on a regular basis, during physical face-to-facegatherings.In the article ‘The Anthropology of Online Communities’,anthropologists Wilson and Peterson claim that in analysing on line groupsthe main problem is that there is no agreement among scholars in consideringthese groups as real or imagined communities. The difficulty derives from theephemeral nature of the media, the Internet, the definition of communityitself, and from rapidly obsolescing technologies. The authors suggest that arigid distinction between online and offline communities is not helpful.Instead, they claim, it is more useful to see communities as a continuum thatexists regardless of the ways in which community members interrelate.14Inthe same vein, Wellman and Gulia criticise those researchers who treat theInternet as an isolated social phenomenon, without taking into account howinteractions on the Net coexist together with other aspects of people’s lives.The Net then is not a separate reality, but is only one of many ways in whichthe same people may interact.15In the introduction to the special thematic section of the Journal ofComputer-Mediated-Communication dedicated to Online Communities,authors Preece and Maloney-Krichmar claim that among researchersinterested in studying CMC it is progressively accepted to consider onlinecommunities as the result of a blend between online and offline elements,presenting some physical components. These groups can start as a face-to-face communities and then move to the digital media within the realm of
  42. 42. Hybrid Communities to Digital Arts Festivals______________________________________________________________30cyberspace. Alternatively, members of an online community decide to meetduring scheduled face-to-face settings.16Thus, one dimension does notnecessarily exclude the other.In my PhD research I am looking at digital arts festivals as eventsthat create and promote social connectivity. My fieldwork is carried out bothoffline and online, in the sense that through an ethnographic approach Iobserve festivals dedicated to contemporary art and digital culture.Concurrently I follow and actively contribute to online discussions of twomailing lists, Rhizome and <nettime>, in which participants discuss and shareinformation about digital art, festivals, and net culture in general. Theseonline communities nurture both digital art festivals and the digital artmovement, and offer their participants the opportunity to critically shareknowledge and keep experimental culture alive.Established in 1996, Rhizome has played a fundamental role in thehistory, promotion and development of the link between art, Internet and newtechnologies. Rhizome, which since 2003 is affiliated with the New Museumof Contemporary Art in New York, is a web site, a digital art archive, and anopen forum for issues related to the creation, support and critique ofemerging artistic practices engaged with technology. The <nettime> groupwas founded in 1995, and since then it represents a valuable internationalforum for discourses about all aspects of net culture and new media, from artto politics. The contents of the forums are all archived in the web site, andfreely accessible. Leading figures in the net culture’s scene like authorsBruce Sterling and Peter Lunenfeld, or Geert Loving, the writer and founderof <nettime>, and Felix Stalder who is both an academic and the current<nettime> moderator, are among the authors who regularly post texts on<nettime>. In addition I have created a blog aiming to further gatherinformation, suggestions, and contributions from those involved in the digitalculture scene.In the relatively short time span of nine months I attended five of themajor electronic and new media arts festivals, namely Mutek and Elektra(Montréal, Canada, May 08), Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria, September 08),and Transmediale and ClubTransmediale (Berlin, Germany, January 09).These festivals made me aware that there are people who regularly meet overthe year in different locations around the world, to experience in a single timeand space frame what can be seen as a ritual with its own rhythms andcharacteristics. In such a context the relation between online and offlinecommunities becomes tangible. Here, at these events, people who werepreviously in contact through Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)meet face-to-face, and at the same time they keep updating their blogs andweb sites, communicating in real time with other people located in differentparts of the world, sharing their experiences and spreading the news throughtheir networks. The planet could be seen as simultaneously connected
  43. 43. Donata Marletta______________________________________________________________31through wires and through people: here both the physical and the virtual areintrinsically tied together, forming a new hybrid space.This new space, which is to be found at the intersection between thematerial and the immaterial, is linked with the notion of liminal space - Latinfor threshold, as formulated by the anthropologist Turner. According to himsome ritual performances occur in physically detached places, away from theflow of the everyday routine; in this sense ritual action is out of the ordinary.Following Van Gennep’s rites of passage model, Turner argues that a ritualexemplifies the transition of an individual from one state to another. Betweenthe states the ritual subjects are set to spend some time in an interstructural orliminal situation; liminality is a state of being in between phases. During thisphase of transition the liminal subjects are, in Turner’s words, ‘betwixt andbetween’. The subjects all treated equally, and constitute a communitywithout status and hierarchies, the communitas. Turner herewith extends theliminal concept to modern societies in his study of liminoid phenomena. Theterm liminoid refers to experiences that have characteristics of liminalexperiences, but if the liminal predominates in tribal societies, the liminoid -liminal-like, flourishes in modern industrialised societies, that arecharacterised by the emergence of technical innovations. The liminoid is abreak from society, is play, is leisure, and allows people to expressthemselves through free and spontaneous experimentations andperformances.17It is arguably in this space, a grey indefinite area that virtualand non-virtual realities merge together.In this paper I have predominantly reviewed a relevant segment ofthe existing literature about communities, both within the traditional studiesfrom various disciplines, and from the more contemporary literature oncommunities that emerge from cyberspace. Discussions around the blurredboundaries between the online and the offline continue to be on the agenda ofmany researchers, and although some progress has been achieved, the path isstill long. New issues will arguably arise, new technologies and new modesof interaction will be created. We will moreover have to continue to reflectcritically on these constant changes and contribute to their discourse. Thisperpetuation is enclosed and encouraged in the following quote from thephilosopher and theorist of digital culture Pierre Lévy, with which I wouldlike to end this paper:The contemporary multiplication of spaces makes usnomads again […] we leap from network to network […]spaces metamorphose and bifurcate beneath our feet,forcing us to undergo a process of heterogenesis.18
  44. 44. Hybrid Communities to Digital Arts Festivals______________________________________________________________32Notes1F Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 8thedition, Buske, Leipzig,1935, translated by C P Loomis, Community and Society, The MitchiganState University Press, 1957.2V Turner, The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual, CornellUniversity Press, London, 1967.3V Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, AldineTransaction, Chicago, 1969.4B Anderson, Imagined Communities, Verso, London, 1991, p. 5.5H Rheingold, The Virtual Community: Homesteading of the ElectronicFrontier, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1994, p. 5.6A Fung, ‘Bridging Cyberlife and Real Life: A Study of OnlineCommunities in Hong Kong’, in Critical Cyberculture Studies, D Silver andA Massanari (eds), New York University Press, New York, 2006, pp. 129-139.7N K Baym, ‘Finding the Quality in Qualitative Research’, in CriticalCyberculture Studies, D Silver and A Massanari (eds), New York UniversityPress, New York, 2006, pp. 79-87.8W Mitchell, City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infoban, MIT Press,Cambridge MA, 1995.9M Crang, ‘Public Space, Urban Space and Electronic Space: Would theReal City Please Stand Up?’, Urban Studies Journal, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2000,pp. 301-317.10M Ostwald, ‘Virtual Urban Futures’, in Virtual Politics: Identity andCommunity in Cyberspace, D Holmes (ed), SAGE, London, 1997.11N Watson, ‘Why We Argue about Virtual Community: A Case Study ofthe Fan Community’, in Virtual Culture: Identity andCommunication in Cyberspace, S Jones (ed), SAGE, London, 1997, pp. 102-132.12B Wellman, M Gulia, ‘Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communitiesas Communities’, in Communities in Cyberspace, P Kollock and M E Smith(eds), Routledge, New York, 1999.13S Jones, Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-Mediated-Communicationand Community, SAGE, London, 1998.14S M Wilson, L C Peterson, ‘The Anthropology of Online Communities’,Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2002, pp. 449-467.15B Wellman, M Gulia, ‘Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communitiesas Communities’, in Communities in Cyberspace, P Kollock and M E Smith(eds), Routledge, New York, 1999.
  45. 45. Donata Marletta______________________________________________________________3316J Preece, D Maloney-Krichmar, ‘Online Communities: Design, Theory,and Practice’, Journal of Computer-Mediated-Communication, Vol. 10, No.4, 2005, pp. 00-00.17V Turner, Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual, Victor TurnerEditor, Washington DC, 1982.18P Lévy, Becoming Virtual: Reality and the Digital Age, Plenum, NewYork, 1988, p. 31.BibliographyAnderson, B., Imagined Communities. Verso, London, 1991, p. 5.Baym, N. K., ‘Finding the Quality in Qualitative Research’, in CriticalCyberculture Studies’. D. Silver and A. Massanari (eds), New YorkUniversity Press, New York, 2006, pp. 79-87.Crang, M., ‘Public Space, Urban Space and Electronic Space: Would theReal City Please Stand Up?’. Urban Studies Journal, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2000,pp. 301-317.Fung, A., ‘Bridging Cyberlife and Real Life: A Study of Online Communitiesin Hong Kong’, in Critical Cyberculture Studies. D. Silver and A. Massanari(eds), New York University Press, New York, 2006, pp. 129-139.Jones, J., Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-Mediated-Communicationand Community, SAGE, London, 1998.Lévy, P., Becoming Virtual: Reality and the Digital Age, Plenum, New York,1988Mitchell, W., City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infobahn. MIT Press,Cambridge, MA, 1995.Ostwald, M., ‘Virtual Urban Futures’, in Virtual Politics: Identity andCommunity in Cyberspace. D. Holmes (ed), SAGE, London, 1997.Preece, J., Maloney-Krichmar, D., ‘Online Communities: Design, Theory,and Practice’. Journal of Computer-Mediated-Communication, Vol. 10, No.4, 2005, pp. 00-00.
  46. 46. Hybrid Communities to Digital Arts Festivals______________________________________________________________34Rheingold, H., The Virtual Community: Homesteading of the ElectronicFrontier. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994.Tönnies, F., Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. 8thedition, Buske, Leipzig,1935, translated by C. P. Loomis, Community and Society, The MitchiganState University Press, 1957.Turner, V., The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. CornellUniversity Press, London, 1967.Turner, V., The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. AldineTransaction, Chicago, 1969.Turner, V., Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Victor Turner Editor,Washington DC, 1982.Watson, N., ‘Why We Argue about Virtual Community: A Case Study of Fan Community’, in Virtual Culture: Identity and Communicationin Cyberspace. S. Jones (ed), SAGE, London, 1997, pp. 102-132.Wellman, B. and M. Gulia., ‘Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: VirtualCommunities as Communities’, in Communities in Cyberspace. P. Kollockand M. E. Smith (eds), Routledge, New York, 1999.Wilson, S. M. and L. C. Peterson, ‘The Anthropology of OnlineCommunities’. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2002, pp.449-467.Donata Marletta is an Italian researcher who in 2007 started a PhDprogramme by joining the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, LeedsMetropolitan University, United Kingdom. Her research project and maininterest focus on digital art and on the emergence of a new generation offestivals dedicated to art and technology.
  47. 47. This Time Its Personal:Social Networks, Viral Politics and Identity ManagementNils GustafssonAbstractThis paper deals with new forms of political mobilisation and participation insocial media. The main focus is on the importance of social networks inproviding a “media filter”, functioning as a kind of collective gatekeeper tospread news and information perceived as important, in contrast to the imageof the single individual media consumer faced with an insurmountable massof information. I argue that by investing one’s personal ethos in spreadinginformation and encourage peers in the personal social network to politicalparticipation, vital news and calls for action spread quickly. A form of viralpolitics ensues that, in concordance with traditional types of mediation andformation of political opinion, might provide a basis for a new type ofpolitical elite in competitive democracy. Drawing on earlier researchconcerning the effect of social capital created by weak ties on politicalparticipation, I argue that social networks organised online provide a newtype of post-organisational weak ties, functioning as maintained socialcapital building institutions, encouraging to and organising actions of civicengagement. More specifically, a case is made for the need for morethorough conceptualisation of new modes of participation: spontaneous,individualised, “unorganised” forms of action. Two concepts, “temporalelites” and “viral politics” are developed for describing how social networkmembership and density determine how people are recruited to politicalcampaigns. The theoretical assumptions are further illustrated by thepreliminary empirical findings of an ongoing study of Swedish Facebookusers and their attitudes and behaviour concerning political participation insocial media.Key Words: Social Networks, Political Participation, Virtual Mobilisation,Facebook, Social Capital.*****1. Social Networks and Viral PoliticsSocial network sites are a prominent type of the various forms ofuser-generated social media that sometimes are grouped under the term “Web2.0”. They are:web-based services that (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list