less than cyberanthropology

Steven Mizrach‘s pages on cyberanthropology [Caution: MIDI-sound! ;-] are very prominently visible on the Web, as e.g. Budka & Kremser (2004: 222, endnote #1) rightfully have noted. Hence his views on the topic can not easily be neglected. Unfortunately I was not able to find any “regular” publications by Mizrach dealing with cyberanthropology or the likes, so I have to quote from his webpage cyberanthropology. There he sums his vision of cyberanthropology up in six key phrases. Every phrase is annotated and explained—to read all go there. Here are the six phrases:

CyberAnthropology is the study of humans in virtual communities and networked environments.

CyberAnthropology draws upon Donna Haraway’s concepts of cyborg anthropology, to examine the technological reconstruction of the human being.

CyberAnthropology prepares the ethnographer to deal with a wider category of “human beings,” which someday may encompass androids and artificial intelligences as well.

CyberAnthropology looks at the human being as a digital-analog information transceiver, not a LaMettrie style steam-driven machine.

CyberAnthropology is a place to examine the uniting of the past and the future—the movement of “modern primitives” and the new “technoshamanism.”

CyberAnthropology deals with the computer as a reflection of Self.

Again the reduction to online interaction, see less than cyberculture, plus a decisive twist towards the exotic and utopian. Budka & Kremser caught the ball and stated that Mizrach’s outline corresponds to the issues they will discuss in their paper (2004: 222, endnote #1), and that, despite of Escobar’s incorporation of biotechnologies (1994: 214), they “will limit the scope of cyberculture to information and communication technologies (ICTs)—the most commonly used term in relation to these new technologies—and how they are discussed in the discipline of social and cultural anthropology.” (2004: 214) When I started out with all this, I have to confess, I have been on similar tracks, was somehow overwhelmed by the impact and importance of ICTs, thereby blindfolded for a bigger picture. But meanwhile I every day get more convinced that “sociocultural anthropology and ICTs” of course is a part of cyberanthropology, but can not constitute it as a whole. In my current view a concept of cyberculture has to consist of the aspects ICTs, cybernetics as a topos, sociocultural appropriation, and cyberpunk—just as I tried to sum it up in wtf is cyberanthropology?. This abstract is the state-of-my-art concerning the topic. Now I’ve got to get to grips and write it out in full.

note: the double mentioning of page 214 referring to two different publications being ten years apart, and being written by different authors is not an error, but sheer coincidence—I just checked ;-)
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