Cyberculture is a wide social and cultural movement closely linked to advanced information science and information technology, their emergence, development and rise to social and cultural prominence between the 1960s and the 1990s. Cyberculture was influenced at its genesis by those early users of the Internet, frequently including the architects of the original project. These individuals were often guided in their actions by the hacker ethic. While early cyberculture was based on a small cultural sample, and its ideals, the modern cyberculture is a much more diverse group of users and the ideals that they espouse.
Numerous specific concepts of cyberculture have been formulated by such authors as Lev Manovich, Arturo Escobar and Fred Forest. However, most of these concepts concentrate only on certain aspects, and they do not cover these in great detail. Some authors aiming to achieve a more comprehensive understanding distinguish between early and contemporary cyberculture (Jakub Macek), or between cyberculture as the cultural context of information technology and cyberculture (more specifically cyberculture studies) as "a particular approach to the study of the 'culture + technology' complex" (David Lister et al.).
Manifestations of Cyberculture include various human interactions mediated by computer networks. They can be activities, pursuits, games, places and metaphors, and include a diverse base of applications. Some are supported by specialized software and others work on commonly accepted web protocols. Examples include but are not limited to:
Architectures of Credibility
Following the model put forth by Lawrence Lessig in Code 2.0, the architecture of a given online community may be the single most important factor regulating the establishment of credibility within online communities. Some factors may be:
Anonymous versus Known
Many sites allow anonymous commentary, where the user-id attached to the comment is something like "guest" or "anonymous user". In an architecture that allows anonymous posting about other works, the credibility being impacted is only that of the product for sale, the original opinion expressed, the code written, the YouTube video, or other entity about which comments are made (e.g., a Slashdot post). Sites that require "known" postings can vary widely from simply requiring some kind of name to be associated with the comment to requiring registration, wherein the identity of the registrant is visible to other readers of the comment. These "known" identities allow and even require commentators to be aware of their own credibility, based on the fact that other users will associate particular content and styles with their identity. By definition, then, all blog postings are "known" in that the blog exists in a consistently defined virtual location, which helps to establish an identity, around which credibility can gather. Note that a "known" identity need have nothing to do with a given identity in the physical world. Linked to Physical Identity versus Internet-based Identity Only
Architectures can require that physical identity be associated with commentary, as in Lessig's example of Counsel Connect. However, to require linkage to physical identity, many more steps must be taken (collecting and storing sensitive information about a user) and safeguards for that collected information must be established-the users must have more trust of the sites collecting the information (yet another form of credibility). Irrespective of safeguards, as with Counsel Connect, using physical identities links credibility across the frames of the internet and real space, influencing the behaviors of those who contribute in those spaces. However, even purely internet-based identities have credibility. Just as Lessig describes linkage to a character or a particular online gaming environment, nothing inherently links a person or group to their internet-based persona, but credibility (similar to "characters") is "earned rather than bought, and because this takes time and (credibility is) not fungible, it becomes increasingly hard" to create a new persona. Unrated Commentary System versus Rated Commentary System
In some architectures those who review or offer comments can, in turn, be rated by other users. This technique offers the ability to regulate the credibility of given authors by subjecting their comments to direct "quantifiable" approval ratings. Positive Feedback-oriented versus Mixed Feedback (positive and negative) oriented
Architectures can be oriented around positive feedback or a mix of both positive and negative feedback. While a particular user may be able to equate fewer stars with a "negative" rating, the semantic difference is potentially important. The ability to actively rate an entity negatively may violate laws or norms that are important in the jurisdiction in which the internet property is important. The more public a site, the more important this concern may be, as noted by Goldsmith & Wu regarding eBay. Moderated versus Unmoderated
Architectures can also be oriented to give editorial control to a group or individual. Many email lists are worked in this fashion (e.g., Freecycle). In these situations, the architecture usually allows, but does not require that contributions be moderated. Further, moderation may take two different forms: reactive or proactive. In the reactive mode, an editor removes posts, reviews, or content that is deemed offensive after it has been placed on the site or list. In the proactive mode, an editor must review all contributions before they are made public.
In a moderated setting, credibility is often given to the moderator. However, that credibility can be damaged by appearing to edit in a heavy-handed way, whether reactive or proactive (as experienced by digg.com). In an unmoderated setting, credibility lies with the contributors alone. It should be noted that the very existence of an architecture allowing moderation may lend credibility to the forum being used (as in Howard Rheingold's examples from the WELL), or it may take away credibility (as in corporate web sites that post feedback, but edit it highly).
Donna Haraway, Sadie Plant, Manuel De Landa, Bruce Sterling, Hendrik Speck, Kevin Kelly, Wolfgang Schirmacher, Victor J.Vitanza, Gregory Ulmer, Charles D. Laughlin, and Jean Baudrillard are among the key theorists and critics who have produced relevant work that speaks to, or has influenced studies in, cyberculture.
Following the lead of Rob Kitchin, in his work Cyberspace: The World in the Wires, we might view cyberculture from different critical perspectives. These perspectives include: Futurism/Techno-utopianism, Technological Determinism, Social Constructionism, Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, and Feminist Theory.
From Whole Earth to the whole web.(From Counterculture to Cyberculture Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism)(Book review)
Mar 09, 2007; From Counterculture to Cyberculture Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred...