Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cyborgs, cyberspace and cyberpunks... hmmmmmm.

The first section of reading discussed many aspects or terms associated with cyberspace such as Virtual reality, telepresence, hypertexts, CMC, cyberculture, cyborg, space and time. It also talked about the definition of cyberspace which I found very interesting. The definition that struck me the most was the one by Howard Rheingold. He defines cyberspace as, “a new manifestation of a social space”. I tend to agree with him because it is this social aspect of cyberspace that gives it meaning and in turn, creates its importance. In other words, it is our human interactions in cyberspace that give it existence and purpose.

On another note, I have to admit that a lot of what I read sounds like the stuff of science fiction novels. But, as I sit and think more carefully about what I read, I can see that it is based in reality. For instance, the book mentions cyborgs and humans merging with computers: “Through our sense of personal cyberspace, we may be said to merge with the computer and become cyborgs”. This idea seemed odd at first but in a sense, the connections we are making with cyberspace do indeed change us. For instance, I have a friend who literally sends hundreds of texts all day and writes long wall posts to her friends on facebook. At first, I thought this was just a good way to stay in touch with the many friends she has across the world, but it has now become the only way in which she interacts with them. She therefore maintains many of her human friendships via this thing called cyberspace and it has me wondering how this affects her as a human being. Is she in some abstract way becoming a “cyborg” by neglecting face to face contact and opting instead for electronic interaction?

Another interesting concept in our reading is the idea of cyberpunks and their ideology. This relates somewhat to my friend who is becoming a cyborg (jk). Cyberpunks believe that the “the earth is this incredibly boring place” so we should therefore immerse ourselves in digital cyberspace to escape from our physical bodies and physical world. This is pretty weird if you ask me. I think this kind of mindset can be severely damaging because we start to lose what makes being human so great. If we adopt a world where cyberspace is reality we are living in a world of constant imitation. I argue that reality is far more stimulating then any virtual environment can be. I think cyberspace should be used as a tool to enhance our quality of life, not replace it. In the end, I hope that we never replace our reality with cyberspace.

All in all, it was a very interesting reading. I realized that I hardly spend the time to think about concepts like cyberspace and its consequences... It was an insightful reading.

A world in which cyberpunks had there way (jk):

No sir! That is not for me.


  1. It does sound like science fiction, but what about having a pacemaker installed to keep your heart beating? What about wearing contact lenses or a hearing aid? What about glasses? Or as I noted in an earlier comment, what happens when you drive a car, doesn't it seem like your body has merged with the vehicle. And while I sympathize with your critique of cyberpunk, are we otherwise free of any use of technology and technique in pursuing sexual and romantic gratification?

  2. I see what you are saying. I think the language of "cyborg" and "cyberspace" creates images of Science fiction novels but I can see the correlation it has with everyday living, especially when it comes to pacemakers or artificial limbs.
    And in response to my critique of cyberpunks: I was not attacking all cyberpunks as a whole, just the specific interpretation the book was talking about. I mainly had an issue with the fact that some cyberpunks think “the earth is this incredibly boring place” so we should therefore immerse ourselves in digital cyberspace to escape from our physical bodies and physical world. I will never be satisfied with an imitation of reality and I certainly don't find this "earth" a boring place.
    But to respond to your idea of whether we will be free from technology in pursuing sexual and romantic gratification: Yes, I do think we can be free of these things in pursuing sexual gratification, but I don't think it is easy to do so. I could no begin to name a few technologies that assist me in my sexual pursuits but I will refrain myself and just say that my main point is that there is no substitute for reality and we should strive for it above all else.