Tuesday, March 10, 2009


This week's reading focused on the concept of cybertime. It was quite an eye opener because up until now I did not really think of the concept of time in relation to computers or virtual reality. Time is something distinct from computers, but as this reading explains, computer also have a sense of time. Real time is characterized as being relative, formed by physical pace, continuous, infinitely divisible, tied to the rhythms of nature and human perception, monochronic, and refers to the time of the physical universe and human perception, but also to the interface between computer's present and the present physical world. On the contrary, cybertime is absolute and independent of the microworld, digital, atomistic, quicktime, based on hyperspeed, polychronic, and encompasses real time as one of its temporal modes. With cybertime a computer can be performing several functions at the same time. Additionally, there is a need for everything to be instantaneous. Computers measure time to mili and nanoseconds and this influences people to expect everything immediately. The reading suggests that we may find ourselves living in "global time," because of the speed at which information can be transferred.
Along with the notion of time, there is also the concept of space in computers. Hypertext is multidimensional and thus allows the reader to navitage through space. The hypertexual network of links represents different moments in time. Computers allow the stimulation and experimentation with the concept of multidimensional time. Computers examine everything through a binary code of zero's and one's and does not have a dimension. As Norbert Wiener explains, the ultimate goal is to reduce the degrees of freedom of zero. In a microworld people can easily move from one dimension to another, making it metadimensional.
Computers also allow us to store information, and change the notion of history. We can keep records of everything from credit card payments to parking tickets, and pull up these records years later - computers change the concept of storing information and its retrieval. This also raises a concern amongst people about leaving an electronic trail. Additionally, computers models can help predict the future, and in some cases this can be a bad thing. The example mentioned in the reading was if a computer projected a stock market crash, investors may easily become nervous enough to make it happen. This is one of the drawbacks of computer prediction, because it may result in self fulfilling prophecies.
Communication via the internet even occurs in the past. For example, the emails we receive are sent in the past but there is a notion of communicating in the present. In cybertime the lines distinguishing time as part of the past, present or future, tend to blur. Some suggest the computer space is a dream or mythical space wherein which our second self dwells. The computer can alter our sense of community by creating a form of liquid tribalism, allowing people to join and leave online communities are frequently as they would like.

The other reading explained cyberspace to be a collective concept, and defined as the diverse experiences of space associated with computing and related technologies. Cyberspace has several orders of space including Cybermedia Space (aesthetic, informational, interactive), Physical, Conceptual, Perceptual, Paraspace, and Spacetime. These are the different orders of space, most of which people overlook. I think this reading was particularly interesting because it emphasized the different types of space computer mediated communication involves -- often times we do not even think about space in this way.


  1. Good summary, but what are your thoughts?

  2. i found the self fulfilling prophecy part quite interesting - even though computers are helpful in logging information and keeping track of payments and bills; its also useful in predicting the future - and some times incorrectly. the computer output may suggest that something is set to happen - and it may only happen because people believe it to happen and thus kind of force it to happen. also, leaving an electronic trail - is an important concern. anything you do on the computer, whatever content you post online - represents you; and this information is available for hundreds of people to access. it kind of just reminded me about the necessity of being careful when posting material up online.

  3. Really clear and concise ideas.