Table of Contents
The advent of the World Wide Web brought about a revolutionary change in the dissemination of information. A cultural transformation from the printed space to the cyber space took place. It redefined the spatial dimensions of our universe. This chapter tells us about the cyberspace and its various characteristics.
The Nature of the Cyberspace
The modern psyche loves new frontiers. We like to explore, to make rules instead of following them. Cyberspace was formerly a playground for computer nerds and techies, but now it includes everyone, even kids.
We might think of cyberspace as a giant and unbounded world of virtual real estate. Some property is privately owned and rented out; other property is common land; some places are suitable for children, and others are best avoided.
However, those places make cyberspace sound like a bad place and people feel the need to regulate it. Using censorship basically misinterprets the nature of cyberspace. Users have to choose where they visit, what they see, what they do. It is optional, and it’s very easy to bypass a place on the net.
Cyberspace is a voluntary destination−in reality many destinations. So, people can choose where to go and what to see. Community standards should be enforced, but those standards should be set by cyberspace communities themselves.
What’s Unique about Cyberspace
First, there are private email conversations, which are private and consensual and require no regulation at all. Second, there are information and entertainment services, where people can download everything. Some of these are free; others may need subscriptions.
Third, there are ‘real communities’−groups of people who communicate among themselves. Each active participant contributes to a general conversation, generally through posted messages. Other participants may simply listen or watch. Some are supervised by a moderator; anyone is free to post anything in others.
What’s unique about cyberspace is that it liberates us from the tyranny of power structures, where everyone lives by the rule of the majority. Cyberspace allows communities of any size and kind to flourish. In cyberspace communities are chosen by the users, not forced on them by geography. If you don’t like the rules of a cyberspace community, you can just sign off.
Instead of a global village, cyberspace is a world of self-contained communities that cater to their own members’ inclinations without interfering with anyone else’s. We will be able to test and evolve rules governing what needs to be governed.
We haven’t created a perfect society on earth and we won’t have one in cyberspace either. But at least we can have individual choice and individual responsibility.
Cyberspace has redefined human interaction. It has opened new frontiers for all sections of society. It allows people to form strong communities based on interests and frees them from the power structures that have come to define the world.