Steven G. Jones – Virtual Culture: Identity and Communication in Cybersociety

The purpose of this book is to shed light on the two sides of computer-mediated communication(CMC) and the Internet. According to Jones, the side we hear most about is their development and the potential of entertainment whilst the consequences of those developments is rarely spoken of.

Although the aim of inventing new technologies is to attempt to improve life, we will, most of the time,discover that in fact life has been reduced in some way or another. Jones also mentions our impatience with technology and how we expect it to run smoothly. He calims that it could be that it comes from our anxiety towards new technologies. However, Jones believes that if we were able to trace our roots of our impatience “we would find that it has arisen not from anxiety, but rather from the expectation that technology will become better for we believe that it has done so”.

In his book, Jones wants to inform us of what is known as the “information superhighway” which is the ongoing progress being carried out to maintain the industry. He mentions how, according to Stoll, our life is “dribbling away” and how communication is changing as the Internet grows and how it has also lowered productivity instead of increasing it.

Some people praise the Internet for providing ways of interacting with people without much effort and thus improving communications and making the community better. However, some people criticize the Internet, such as Howard Rheingold, explaining that it “evokes a sense of lost opportunities” and that rather then “overcoming”” space and time through technology we should live in them.

The Internet’s infusion into Modern Life has also shifted our sense of “living time” and “social time”, living time being the time that passes according to our senses and social time being the time we sense as a form of obligation which as Stoll describes as being “dribbled away”. Instead of time moving continuously, it is experience as “atomistic” and that it is not used to be spent with other but for others. Barlow also describes the internet as a “silent world” where all conversations are typed and to enter, one has to “give up” their body and place and become a “thing of words alone”.

I agree that I don’t think the Internet will ever or SHOULD ever replace real life interaction. Meeting someone in person is a completely different experience. It is hard to see what a person is feeling on the internet and whether they are lying. However I am not completely against it because it allows me to communicate with people which I am not able to see on a regular basis. I’m currently living in England to further my studies and my parents still live in Malta therefore, technologies such as Skype and Facebook allow me to communicate with them efficiently and makes me feel as though I am still part of their life in a very nonphysical way. But as some of you might agree with, it’s way better than nothing.


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