Synopses & Reviews
Are communication technologies ushering in a wondrous new age of computer networks that connect people into worldwide virtual communities of like-minded individuals? Or are global computer networks isolating us from real relationships and from our society, as we stare into a screen instead of interacting face to face? In this eloquent and thoughtful book, Stephen Doheny-Farina explores the nature of cyberspace and the increasing virtualization of everyday life. He occupies a middle ground between these two extreme views of the net, arguing that electronic neighborhoods should be less important than geophysical neighborhoods in all their integrity, and that we must use the new technologies not to escape from our troubled communities but to reinvigorate them.
Doheny-Farina offers a critical perspective on virtual reality and its social impact, showing us how people meet and converse on the net, how they teach and learn, and how they establish workplaces that can accompany them wherever they go. Along the way he reveals the advantages and hazards of making the computer the center of our public and private lives. Doheny-Farina argues that once we begin to divorce ourselves from geographic place and start investing ourselves in virtual communities, we further the dissolution of our real, dying communities. He speaks out in favor of a movement called civic networking, which promotes the proliferation of networks that originate locally to organize community information and culture and to foster pride in and responsibility to our neighborhoods.