why cyberanthropology, why “cyber-“?

or, cybernetics as a tacit but paradigmatical cultural topos  Already in 1994 anthropologist ↑Arturo Escobar bid his colleagues ↵welcome to cyberia and hinted at a path towards an ‘anthropology of ↑cyberculture‘. But astoundingly enough Escobar takes words as ‘cyberspace’ and the like to be misnomers—he only uses the term ‘cyberculture’ as an element of analysis due to the widespread acceptance of the prefix ‘cyber-‘. (↵1994:211, fn. I.) Just having complied to fashion while formulating new concepts is not quite an academic justification—a weak one at best. I do not at all share the opinion that ‘cyber-‘ is misleading. Quite to … Continue reading

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DGV05: structures of computer-mediated cultural spaces

by Timo Baur It is still difficult to delineate the medium Internet as an object of investigation for cyberanthropology. The same is true for precisely positioning the cultural spaces which are perceptible via the Internet within a broader anthropological perspective. Because of geographical criteria this tasks at first seem easier concerning cultural spaces ‘traditionally’ belaboured by sociocultural anthropology. The presentation is based upon a semiotic concept of culture, McLuhan’s notions, and the ISO (International Standard Organization) OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) reference model. It aims at making explicit a structure upon which the Internet is based, both as an abstract medium … Continue reading

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cockroach cybernetics

  Via his thesis development plan ↑Control and communication in the animal and the machine I stumbled onto Garnet Hertz’ ↑Cockroach controlled mobile robot:  “Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine” is a cockroach-controlled mobile robot system. The system uses a living Madagascan hissing cockroach atop a modified trackball to control the three-wheeled robot. Infrared sensors also provide navigation feedback to create a semi-intelligent system, with the cockroach as the CPU. Enjoy! … Continue reading

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cybernetics

Cybernetics was defined by Norbert Wiener [see picture above] as ‘the science of control and communication, in the animal and the machine’ [↵Wiener 1948]—in a word, as the art of steermanship, and it is to this aspect that the book will be addressed. Co-ordination, regulation and control will be its themes, for these are of the greatest biological and practical interest. (↵Ashby 1957[1956]:1) Additionally a slightly longer quotation from a more recent article: Derived from the Greek kybernetes, or “steersman”, the term “cybernetics” first appears in Antiquity with Plato, and in the 19th century with Ampère, who both saw it … Continue reading

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DGV05: cyberanthropology agenda

The agenda of the workshop ‘cyberanthropology’ at the ↑Conference of the German Anthropological Association (GAA aka DGV) – Halle / Saale, 4th – 7th October 2005 finally is [almost] complete. The workshop will take place on Thursday, 06 October 2005. It starts at 13:45h and runs until 18:00h. All in all nine presentations will be held—alas one of the scheduled contributors is not yet sure if he can make it to the conference, but we shall know soon. Here is the agenda: ↑KNORR, ALEXANDER ↵Cyberanthropology ↑ZURAWSKI, NILS ↵Internet and anthropology BAUR, TIMO ↵Structures of computer-mediated cultural spaces KOLO, CASTULUS ↵Cyberanthropology … Continue reading

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DGV05: cyberanthropology going mobile

anthropological perspectives on mobile communication by Castulus Kolo Parallel to the diffusion of the Internet’s utilisation the mobile phone as a means of communication has spread all over the world even faster, and still unhampered. Diverse Internet services meanwhile have established themselves in the focus of social and cultural academic disciplines—even different currents of research are noticeable, like e.g. cyberanthropology. Yet mobile communication has been widely neglected—at least in the German-speaking part of academia. Seen from a sociocultural anthropological vantage point not the technology itself is especially interesting, but the charging of the end devices with cultural meaning, and the … Continue reading

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DGV05: the zapatista effect

Actors, representations, and networks of the Chiapas conflict on the www by ↑Julia Pauli and ↑Michael Schnegg More than ten years ago, on 1 January 1994, the EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) stormed and took official buildings and Municipios in Mexico’s federal state Chiapas. Ultimately war on the government was declared. At that time only few observers and actors understood the tremendous virtual and media potential this seemingly locally bounded conflict had. Only one year later US transregional newspapers like the Washington Post and Newsweek reported on the Mexican rebels with high tech weapons, fighting history’s first Internetwar. Different … Continue reading

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DGV05: digitised everyday life?

The significance of computer-mediated communication for the development of transnational communities by Heike Greschke More and more the Internet is used by transnational populations. For instance in order to maintain relationships to affiliates, to get up-to-date information on the region of origin, or to to exert political influence as a diaspora. Nevertheless we know comparatively few about the social consequences of this growing integration of electronic media of communication into the everyday life of transnational populations. This presentation is based on data from a still running ethnographical study on an Internet discussion-forum. Said forum is used by people stemming from … Continue reading

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DGV05: cybercommunities and cyberspace

Online games as an example by ↑Michel Nachez and ↑Patrick Schmoll The presentation aims at depicting a cybercommunity inside which we have done participant observation. The community’s members have organised themselves online and have created a shared description or account. Some of the peculiarities of this community are to be found again in others. The community’s pecularities in turn hint at peculiarities of social interaction online: dematerialisation of the concept of physical territory in favor of virtual territory, absence of the body, anonymity, the problem of masks, multiple ‘personalities’, now and then amibuity of gender, transportation of specific shared norms … Continue reading

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DGV05: free software as an anthropological field of research

by Frauke Lehmann Free software (also Open Source) is a comparatively uncommon subject of research for sociocultural anthropology. Those ‘into’ free software constitute a social formation which almost exclusively is to be located on the Internet. The individual members are dispersed all over the globe, their shared core interest is the production of the post-industrial commodity software. But nevertheless this field promises interesting and enriching knowledge for sociocultural anthropology. The latter in turn is able to contribute crucially to the understanding of said field. When looking at free software’s fabric of property, the organisation of particular projects, the economic system, … Continue reading

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