Cultures in Cyberspace



Computer networks provide access to an internationally linked electronic
communications territory -- cyberspace. In cyberspace, communities form out of
interest and choice, more than geography. As with multi-national corporations,
computer networks are drawing new lines of social organization.

In contrast to the telephone or television, computer networks are a
many-to-many communications medium -- the virtual communities that inhabit them
exist through active participation amongst their members. This technology would
seem to incur a new social order -- one based on reciprocity and interaction,
rather than imperialist domination.

The catch is that computer networks are not accessible to everyone. Cyberspace
is being colonized primarily by countries with access to a high level of
technology; and within those countries, largely by the current power elite. At
the same time, historically and now there is significant and effective
international grassroots computer networking constituency, as well as public
and local access BBS', at least in the U.S.

What is culture in cyberspace? In Australia, Canada, the U.S., and parts of
Europe, some artists have gained access to computer networks and are using them
to make and distribute art. Those working in a Euro-American artistic tradition
often experiment with conferencing software to create works that evolve from a
process of participatory, interactive communication. Native American artists in
the U.S. have developed online graphic share-art, through which they represent
their distinct cultures, and provide another source of income for tribal
communities. In many 3rd world countries where poverty is high, and computers
and phone lines are rare, networking projects are generally operated by
non-governmental organizations or educational institutions, and tend to focus
on economic or social development, not cultural preservation or participation.

How will cybercultures evolve? Is it important for cultural participation in
cyberspace? And if so, how can and is equitable access made available to all
cultural groups? What will happen to cultural groups that remain offline? Will
cultural groups that do access cyberspace lose their distinct identities
through a process of interaction? And, if so, is such an occurrence cultural
evolution or homogenization -- something to explore or something to avoid at
all costs? What is the role of cybercultural activity in cyberspace itself;
what is its role in the offline culture that initiated it?

To participate:

Connect to one of the following systems between Nov 2-13, 1992, or post to the
USENET newsgroup, alt.isea, directly. Local discussions on the following
systems will be distributed to other sites via alt.isea.

American Indian Telecommunication/Dakota BBS
coordinators: George Baldwin (
Anne Fallis (
Randy Ross (
location: Dakota BBS, 406.341.4552 (8N1)

coordinators: Sue Harris and Phillip Bannigan (

Arts Wire
coordinator: Joe Matuzak (
location: artswirehub

USENET (International)
coordinator: John S. Quarterman (
location: alt.cyberspace

coordinators: Judy Malloy ( and Eric S. Theise
location: virtual communities (vc)

For further information contact:

Anna Couey
Telecommunications Subcommittee/TISEA
Arts Wire Network Coordinator
1077 Treat Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
tel: 415.826.6743

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