Thursday, June 28, 2012

Communication and Cyberspace: Chapters 2, 3, 21

Chapter 2 considers the cultural and political impacts of cyberspace. John Phelan points out that the interactivity of the Internet is due to the user's ability to control the devices of the computer. An important facet of the Web is the notion of feedback as if the computer was an extension of themselves. We strive to synchronize ourselves with the technology by making our senses transparent. When doing so, we project our desires and intentions on the computer in order to gain a more realistic, human experience. What I found particularly interesting in this chapter was the idea of cyberspace as a paradox. We strive to fabricate a perfect reflection of reality through the new digital technology, so much so that we are eluded into thinking that our activities in cyberspace are directly translated into real space. The Web has also created both a better informed producer and better informed consumer. The new technology has even found its way into politics. For examples, protestors who are advocating the renewal of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty were able to compose well formed arguments through coordinating on the Internet. The Internet has become a source of exchange of information and instruction.

In Chapter 3, the author brings up a point made by James Gleick that because the Net is not a physical entity, no one can be entitled to own or control it. It belongs to everyone. Cyberspace is not only composed of material things, it is also fosters relationships and a sense of belonging. These three elements of material, relational and cognitive together form what could be considered a culture. While cyberspace is rapidly destabilizing centralized means of mass control, Phelan says that there will always be a fight for control. He eventually concludes that those who will control society at large will control cyberspace.

Chapter 21 discusses the concern that a space intended to be free and open will become imperialized by businesses. The Internet's marketing potential is obvious; therefore making the medium vulnerable to commercialization. Rushkoff describes information as, "the modern science of control"which I think is an intriguing concept. I suppose when one possesses certain information, they gain some sort of power. I thought it was also notable when the author says that communication nurtures the direction and growth of a culture. When we interact with each other, we exchange information that will either add to our cognitive archive or enhance what we already know. Furthermore this article discusses the new strategies of advertisers. Companies are starting to perfect the art of "creating needs rather than fulfilling them" through their ads. The technique of "wink" advertising is also growing in popularity where the ad appeals to the viewer's intelligence.

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