What Is Cyberspace?
Cyberspace has been called the place where a phone call takes place in, in much the same way a cafe is where you have a chat and a coffee. But this is too general a description of what it really is. Cyberspace is a metaphor for describing the non-physical terrain created by computer systems. The word "cyberspace" was coined by the science fiction author William Gibson in his sci-fi novel Neuromancer (1984). It is what we call the world within computers.
Cyberspace in modern society.
Online systems, for example, create a virtual world known as cyberspace within which people can communicate with one another through email, do research, or simply window shop. Like a physical space, cyberspace contains objects (files, mail messages, graphics etc.) and different modes of transportation and deliver. Unlike real space, though, exploring cyberspace does not require any physical movement other than pressing keys on a keyboard or moving a mouse. The greatest example of this is seen in computer games where a virtual world is created for gamers to communicate and interact within the game, such as in games such as World Of Warcraft and Guild Wars. but although there is constant interacting with people it is all through a virtual landscape and can cause a person to feel isolated in the real world. There have been many cases where cyberspace has affected real life much more than it was meant to when it was first created such as when a woman was arrested for killing her husbands online avatar after she hacked into his account ( http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/legalpost/archive/2008/10/24/death-of-an-avatar.aspx ), or when someone hacks into bank details and leaves a person completely penniless in the real world. Because of this, greater security is needed to keep cyberspace a safe place.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cyberspace
- There are many advantages for cyberspace, such as easy access communication to people all around the world.
- Booking flights and trains online with Aer Lingus and Iarnród Éireann.
- Online shopping sites such as Zmazon or eBay.
- As mentioned before, too much time spent in cyberspace can lead to problems in the real world such as feelings of isolation and health problems.
- Illegal downloads, although a huge advantage for fans, it is a big disadvantage for movie makers and musicians as it effects sales and promotes piracy.
- Cyber fraud.
Popular culture examples
In the movie Tron, a programmer was physically transferred to the program world, where programs were personalities, resembling the forms of their creators. In the movie 'The Matrix', the Matrix resembles a complex form of cyberspace where people are "jacked in" from birth and do not know that the reality they experience is virtual. The anime Digimon is set in a variant of the cyberspace concept called the "Digital World". The Digital World is a parallel universe made up of data from the Internet. Similar to cyberspace, except that people could physically enter this world instead of merely using a computer.
- A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow
- Sex, Religion and Cyberspace by Richard Thieme
- Slater, Don 2002, 'Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline', in L.Lievrouw and S.Livingston (eds), * The Handbook of New Media, Sage, London, pp533-46.
- William Gibson. Neuromancer:20th Anniversary Edition. New York:Ace Books, 2004.
- Communities in Cyberspace by Marc A.Smith.