CYBERSPACE

CYBERSPACE






William Gibson
"Consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. A graphic representation of data abstract from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Line of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellation of data. Like city lights, receding."
(William Gibson, in Neuromancer)

The above is the description of cyberspace as defined by William Gibson in his science fiction novel, Neuromancer. It is considered one of the most influential texts in framing our understandings of the Internet as where new communities take place.7

The followings are Internet applications symbolic of Cyberspace metaphor.

BBS

Electronic "Bulletin Board System" is a software running on a computer set to respond to modem phone call from other computer users wishing to exchange message and files. Originally BBS was not part of the Internet. It was often run from the basement of hobbyists and small entrepreneurs with no connection with the backbone Internet. The first BBS was designed in 1978 by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess. In the decade before the Internet became accessible for public, BBSs defined the horizon of cyberspace for the average modem dabbler, with ten of thousand of separate computers around the world reflecting a similar diversity of interest as is now found in Usenet news groups. Unlike the Internet, most BBS's were secular, incapable of connecting with any other BBS to forward or receive messages. This situation began to change in the late 1980s with the advent of shoe-string networks like FidoNet in which participating BBSs were programmed to exchange files during off-peak phone times though immensely successful given their modest infrastructure, such BBS networks have largely been absorbed into the Internet in recent years.1

Usenet

Usenet is a global collection of text-based "newsgroup"discussions which principally take place over the Internet, ranging from rec.pets.cats and rec.aviation.hang-gliding to alt.drugs.pot, and alt.sex.first-time. As with the Internet itself, there is no central head quarters for Usenet; new messages ripple out across the network, passed along from one machine to the next, reaching some distant host computers in a matter of minutes while others can take days. Before commercial service like America Online offered Usenet access in 1994, the discussion (dating from 1983) were dominated by computer hobbyists, the military, and those at universities and computer companies. Usenet culture has spawned such termed as "lurking" (reading but not posting) and "flame war" (acrimonious debate). In Usenet, identities are represented relatively accurately. The creation of new discussion groups follow a strict voting process established in the late'80s, except for those groups beginning with the "alt."prefix.1

IRC

Internet Relay Chat, a program that enables users around the world to gather in "channels" and type messages to each other in real time. These channels can be formed at any time. By 1995, there were dozens of stable ones ranging from #hottub where users pretend they were swinging together, to #12 step, where virtual 12-step meetings are held. IRC has gained fame through big early '90s news stories, serving, for instance, as an important conduit for information to Moscow during the summer 1993 coup against Boris Yeltsin. Several weddings have also taken place on IRC.1

MUD

A Multi-User Dungeon or Domain or Dimension, the Internet update of role-playing games (like the dice-and -rulebook Dungeon&Dragons). The word "dungeon" persists from the early 1970s, when the paper-and pencil role-playing game Dungeon and Dragons swept the game culture1. A MUD is a virtual space, accessible via the Internet, where players participate in a new kind of social virtual reality with worlds created out of text descriptions and in-character player interactions ranging from Ancient Anguish,to LooneyMUD,the realms of pop culture's creations, ranging through comics to cartoons, from sitcoms to major motion pictures. While the first MUDs date to 1979, the explosive early 1990s growth of the Internet has only recently led to the proliferation of hundreds of separate MUDs. Some of the most popular MUDs are based on novels and movies. Nowadays, the term MUD refers to all multi-user environments. MIT social scientistSherry Turkleonce mentioned, "MUDs are a new kind of virtual parlor game and a new form of community."2 The characters that are initially created by users have no attributes other than reference numbers in the MUD database. Users must give themselves names, describe themselves, and furnish themselves with a background. Interaction on most MUDs is carried through the use of four commands known as say, emote, whisper, page.4









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Last modified: 4/11/98 1998 tassanee