end of cyberspace 01.11.2006, 7:26 AM
posted by ben vershbow
The End of Cyberspace is a brand-new blog by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, former academic editor and print-to-digital overseer at Encyclopedia Britannica, and currently a research director at the Institute for the Future (no relation). Pang has been toying with this idea of the end of cyberspace for several years now, but just last week he set up this blog as "a public research notebook" where he can begin working through things more systematically. To what precise end, I'm not certain.
The end of cyberspace refers to the the blurring, or outright erasure, of the line between the virtual and the actual world. With the proliferation of mobile devices that are always online, along with increasingly sophisticated social software and "Web 2.0" applications, we are moving steadily away from a conception of the virtual -- of cyberspace -- as a place one accesses exclusively through a computer console. Pang explains:
Our experience of interacting with digital information is changing. We're moving to a world in which we (or objects acting on our behalf) are online all the time, everywhere.
Designers and computer scientists are also trying hard to create a new generation of devices and interfaces that don't monopolize our attention, but ride on the edges of our awareness. We'll no longer have to choose between cyberspace and the world; we'll constantly access the first while being fully part of the second.
Because of this, the idea of cyberspace as separate from the real world will collapse.
If the future of the book, defined broadly, is about the book in the context of the network, then certainly we must examine how the network exists in relation to the world, and on what terms we engage with it. I'm not sure cyberspace has ever really been a home for the book, but it has, in a very short time, totally altered the way we read. Now, gradually, we return to the world. But changed. This could get interesting.
bowerbird on January 11, 2006 6:27 AM:
cyberspace should keep her own apartment,
and not get married to "real life" because
that guy is kind of a loser, know what i mean?
why should she get hooked up with _him_?
he's gonna take her to p.t.a. meetings, and
bowling, soccer practice and food-shopping.
a constant "mapquest this" and "google that".
he'll drag her to the dentist! the damn _dentist_!
the girl will go nuts spending all her time with him!
bored to tears! she's wild. jimi, she _is_ experienced.
she needs to stay open. and she needs to stay free.
that way, we can keep meeting in the afternoon,
you know, when she makes herself look all nice,
and laughs and puts on that sexy little red teddy?
after a hard day at the office,
he won't want to go out and dance.
and that girl, she really needs to dance.
i tell ya, if she gets married, she'll miss me. ;+)
sol gaitan on January 11, 2006 5:36 PM:
We're moving to a world in which we (or objects acting on our behalf) are online all the time, everywhere.
The editor of theInstitute for the Future says that Alex Soojung-Kim Pang "brings strong historical and theoretical perspectives to his work on the future of pervasive computing, the end of cyberspace, and the coevolution of technology and society." The idea of pervasive computing is at the core of how society is being altered by technology, or how the two are "coevolving." This doesn't seem to be an end of cyberspace, but an end to the zealous demarcation of the line between the virtual and the real. In the West, the desire to blur the line, the need to access the "other side," took artists to try opium, absinth, kef, and peyote. The symbolists crossed the line and brought back dada, surrealism, and other manifestations of worlds that until then had been held at bay but that were all there. The virtual is part of the actual, "we, or objects acting on our behalf are online all the time." Never though of that in such terms, but it's true, and very exciting. It potentially enriches my reality. As with a book, contents become alive through the reader/user, otherwise the book is a dead, or dormant, object. So, my e-mail, the blogs I read, the Web, are online all the time, but it's through me that they become concrete, a perceived reality. Yes, we read differently because texts grow, move, and evolve, while we are away and "the object" is closed. But, we still need to read them. Esse rerum est percipi.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang on January 26, 2006 11:47 AM:
"To what precise end, I'm not certain." Nor am I. The first impulse was to circulate the responses that we weren't able to run in the Wired article; but what the research will ultimately yield (couple journal articles? short book? movie treatment?), and whether the blog will ultimately serve a purpose other than publicizing the project,-- who knows yet.