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Cyber Reader: Critical Writings for the Digital Eraby Neil Spiller
Synopses & Reviews
This text is an introduction to key texts related to the theme of cyberspace - the virtual communicative space created by digital technologies - offering the reader an overview of cyberspace theories through extracts of some of the best writings of this wide-ranging subject.
This book will be an introduction to key texts related to the theme of cyberspace — the virtual communicative space created by digital technologies — offering the reader an overview of cyberspace theories through extracts of some of the best and most essential writings of this wide-ranging subject. Cyberspace culture is itself cross-disciplinary: this reader will include texts from a variety of fields concerned with cyberspace — such as science, complexity theory, philosophy and metaphysics, sexual politics, art and architecture as well as science fiction — illustrating how these different disciplines inform one another, thus providing an illuminating and original collection of key extracts from books and essays on the subject.
The extracts will be presented in chronological order, beginning with some precursors to cyberspace theory as we know it today. Extracts by early theoreticians such as Charles Babbage or Alan Turing, or writers such as EM Forster help to give a historical perspective to the subject. Each extract will be prefaced by a short introduction that contextualizes the piece, explains the key themes and terms alluded to in the extract, and cross-refers it to other texts in the book. It will be an informative guide to cyberspace culture, and is an excellent introduction for students working within the disciplines covered in the book.
Cyberspace is a geographically unlimited, non-physical space — independent of time and location, and unhindered by distance — where transactions or interactions take place between people, between computers and between people and computers. The expression 'cyberspace' was first used by William Gibson, the science-fiction author, as thesetting for his novel Neuromancer. Cyberspace is a world of infinite possibilities but few could define exactly what it is or what it means. For some, cyberspace is where you are when you are on the telephone, for others it is the place that is no place and for others still, it is the world of computer simulation. Cyberspace is a potentially poetic space, blossoming with opportunities and possibilities. As Michael Benedikt has written in Cyberspace: The First Steps (1991): 'Its depths increase with every image or word or number, with every addition, every contribution, of fact or thought. Its horizons recede in every direction; it breathes larger, it complexities, it embraces and involves.'
Our everyday existence has been greatly affected by the evolution of cyberspace. In academic, commercial and social worlds there have been massive changes brought about by the Internet, the World Wide Web and personal computers. The huge exponential growth of cyberspace — computational power doubles every year — has fundamentally re-articulated nearly every aspect of our lives, opening up ways for us to see far, deep, close and wide, to record knowledge and transmit it over thousands of miles in a matter of seconds.
Cyber Reader is an essential initial source book, which will introduce students and researchers to the broad premise of cyberspatial theory and practice. It covers a wide range of subjects and includes discussions on the impact of digital technology in relation to politics, media philosophy, religion, philosophy, film and theatre, evolution theory, art and architecture, material science and biology. The Reader not only defines some of the new territories but also offers the mostinfluential core texts dealing with those territories in one easy-to-read publication. The book will help the reader understand the wealth of opportunities, both practical and theoretical, that cyberspace engenders and enables them to chart its impact on many disciplines. Many are crucial and seminal texts, currently unavailable or buried deep in other books and papers that are either difficult to obtain or far too detailed for initial general research.
Each selected extract is preceded by an introduction by Neil Spiller, which allows cross-referencing between extracts and writers featured in the book. Its structure will be chronological to further allow texts to be seen in relation to other disciplines at certain points of time. It contrasts the real theoretical developments with those of science fiction and shows the strange parallels between real and imagined worlds. It looks at questions of identity in cyberspace and the issues of gender that cross over from the real world into the cyber world. An extensive bibliography will enable students to pursue strands of study that interest them.
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