stability online

The real virtual

The final draft of my paper The stability of cyberspace [.pdf | 32KB], which will be published—this month, they say—in the Proceedings of the Cyberspace 2005 Conference, is now online. If you’re interested, help yourself and consider the thing to be CC-licenced—same licence as this blog has. Here’s the paper’s somewhat self-aggrandizing and preposterous—blame my youthful levity—abstract:

The lack of a suitable understanding of reality experienced by human beings hampers the discourse on social and cultural phenoma triggered by information and communication technologies (ICTs). This lack generates misunderstandings which accumulate in the notion of ICT-induced realms as a Gegenwelt, either in the form of an utopia or dystopia. The majority of the studies so far on the subject suffer from an utter lack of clarity of the discourse’s ever-resurfacing core-concepts “virtual reality” (VR), “cyberspace”, and “virtual community”. In fact, throughout the literature a shared understanding of these concepts does not exist.

From a sociocultural anthropological background this article provides a model of the experience of reality, which is based upon the works of William James and Alfred Schütz, and thereby bridges the divide between positivism/materialism and constructivism. By combining this pragmatic model with the history of the above-mentioned concepts, a sound basis for research on ICT-induced phenomena is generated.