Cyberculture is the culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 that has emerged, or is emerging, from the use of computer network
Computer network
A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of hardware components and computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information....

s for communication
Computer-mediated communication
Computer-mediated communication is defined as any communicative transaction that occurs through the use of two or more networked computers...

, entertainment and business
Electronic business
Electronic business, commonly referred to as "eBusiness" or "e-business", or an internet business, may be defined as the application of information and communication technologies in support of all the activities of business...

. It is also the study of various social phenomena associated with the Internet and other new forms of network communication, such as online communities, online multi-player gaming, social media and texting.


The internet is one gigantic well-stocked fridge ready for raiding; for some strange reason, people go up there and just give stuff away.
Mega 'Zines, Macworld
Macworld is a web site and monthly computer magazine dedicated to Apple Macintosh products. It is published by Mac Publishing, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California...


Since the boundaries of cyberculture are difficult to define, the term is used flexibly, and its application to specific circumstances can be controversial. It generally refers at least to the cultures of virtual communities, but extends to a wide range of cultural issues relating to "cyber
Cyber may refer to:* Cyber-, a common prefix* Cybergoth* CDC Cyber, a range of mainframe computers* Cyber Acoustics, a brand of computer hardware* Cyber Missionary* Cybersex * Cyberitis * Cyber...

-topics", e.g. cybernetics
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

, and the perceived or predicted cyborg
A cyborg is a being with both biological and artificial parts. The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space. D. S...

ization of the human body
Human body
The human body is the entire structure of a human organism, and consists of a head, neck, torso, two arms and two legs.By the time the human reaches adulthood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells, the basic unit of life...

 and human society itself. It can also embrace associated intellectual and cultural movements, such as cyborg theory
Cyborg theory
Cyborg theory was created by Donna Haraway in order to criticize traditional notions of feminism—particularly its strong emphasis on identity, rather than affinity. She uses the metaphor of a cyborg in order to construct a feminism that moves beyond dualisms and moves beyond the limitations of...

 and cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

. The term often incorporates an implicit anticipation of the future.

The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 lists the earliest usage of the term "cyberculture" in 1963, when A.M. Hilton wrote, "In the era of cyberculture, all the plows pull themselves and the fried chickens fly right onto our plates."
This example, and all others, up through 1995 are used to support the definition of cyberculture as "the social conditions brought about by automation and computerization." The American Heritage Dictionary broadens the sense in which "cyberculture" is used by defining it as, "The culture arising from the use of computer networks, as for communication, entertainment, work, and business". However, what both the OED and the American Heritage Dictionary miss is that cyberculture is the culture within and among users of computer networks. This cyberculture may be purely an online culture or it may span both virtual and physical worlds. This is to say, that cyberculture is a culture endemic to online communities; it is not just the culture that results from computer use, but culture that is directly mediated by the computer. Another way to envision cyberculture is as the electronically-enabled linkage of like-minded, but potentially geographically disparate (or physically disabled and hence less mobile) persons.

Cyberculture is a wide social and cultural movement closely linked to advanced information science
Information science
-Introduction:Information science is an interdisciplinary science primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information...

 and information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, 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
Hacker ethic
Hacker ethic is the generic phrase which describes the moral values and philosophy that are standard in the hacker community. The early hacker culture and resulting philosophy originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s and 1960s...

. 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
Lev Manovich
Lev Manovich is an author of new media books, professor of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego, U.S. and European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he teaches new media art and theory, software studies, and digital humanities...

, Arturo Escobar and Fred Forest
Fred Forest
Fred Forest is a French new media artist making use of video, photography, the printed press, mail, radio, television, telephone, telematics, and the internet in a wide range of installations, performances, and public interventions that explore both the ramifications and potential of media space...

. However, most of these concepts concentrate only on certain aspects, and they do not cover these in great detail. Some authors aim 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

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:
  • Blog
    A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

  • Social networks
    Social network service
    A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service consists of a representation of each user , his/her social...

  • Games
  • Chat
    Online chat
    Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet, that offers an instantaneous transmission of text-based messages from sender to receiver, hence the delay for visual access to the sent message shall not hamper the flow of communications in any of the directions...

  • Usenet
    Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980...

  • Bulletin Board Systems
    Bulletin board system
    A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging...

  • E-Commerce
  • Peer-to-peer file sharing
    Peer-to-peer file sharing
    P2P or Peer-to-peer file sharing allows users to download files such as music, movies, and games using a P2P software client that searches for other connected computers. The "peers" are computer systems connected to each other through internet. Thus, the only requirements for a computer to join...

  • Virtual world
    Virtual world
    A virtual world is an online community that takes the form of a computer-based simulated environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects. The term has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of...

  • Cybersex
    Cybersex, also called computer sex, Internet sex, netsex, mudsex, TinySex and, colloquially, cybering, is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more persons connected remotely via computer network send each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience...

  • Internet memes
    Internet meme
    The term Internet meme is used to describe a concept that spreads via the Internet. The term is a reference to the concept of memes, although the latter concept refers to a much broader category of cultural information.-Description:...

  • Qualities of cyberculture

    First and foremost, cyberculture derives from traditional notions of culture, as the roots of the word imply. In non-cyberculture, it would be odd to speak of a single, monolithic culture. In cyberculture, by extension, searching for a single thing that is cyberculture would likely be problematic. The notion that there is a single, definable cyberculture is likely the complete dominance of early cyber territory by affluent North Americans. Writing by early proponents of cyberspace tends to reflect this assumption (see Howard Rheingold
    Howard Rheingold
    -See also:* Collective intelligence* Information society* The WELL* Virtual community-External links:***** at TED conference** a 48MB Quicktime movie, hosted by the Internet Archive...


    The ethnography of cyberspace
    Cyberspace is the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.The term "cyberspace" was first used by the cyberpunk science fiction author William Gibson, though the concept was described somewhat earlier, for example in the Vernor Vinge short story "True...

     is an important aspect of cyberculture that does not reflect a single unified culture. It "is not a monolithic or placeless 'cyberspace'; rather, it is numerous new technologies and capabilities, used by diverse people, in diverse real-world locations." It is malleable, perishable, and can be shaped by the vagaries of external forces on its users. For example, the laws of physical world governments, social norms, the architecture of cyberspace, and market forces shape the way cybercultures form and evolve. As with physical world cultures cybercultures lend themselves to identification and study.

    That said, there are several qualities that cybercultures share that make them warrant the prefix “cyber-“. Some of those qualities are that cyberculture:
    • Is a community mediated by ICTs.
    • Is culture “mediated by computer screens.”
    • Relies heavily on the notion of information and knowledge exchange.
    • Depends on the ability to manipulate tools to a degree not present in other forms of culture (even artisan culture, e.g., a glass-blowing culture).
    • Allows vastly expanded weak ties and has been criticized for overly emphasizing the same (see Bowling Alone
      Bowling Alone
      Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community is a book by Robert D. Putnam. It was originally a 1995 essay entitled Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital.-Summary:...

       and other works).
    • Multiplies the number of eyeballs on a given problem, beyond that which would be possible using traditional means, given physical, geographic, and temporal constraints.
    • Is a “cognitive and social culture, not a geographic one.”
    • Is “the product of like-minded people finding a common ‘place’ to interact."
    • Is inherently more "fragile" than traditional forms of community and culture (John C. Dvorak
      John C. Dvorak
      John C. Dvorak is an American columnist and broadcaster in the areas of technology and computing. His writing extends back to the 1980s, when he was a mainstay of a variety of magazines. Dvorak is also the Vice-President of Mevio and well known for his work for Tech TV...


    Identity in cyberculture

    Cyberculture, like culture in general, relies on establishing identity and credibility. However, in the absence of direct physical interaction, it could be argued that the process for such establishment is more difficult.

    How does cyberculture rely on and establish identity and credibility? This relationship is two way, with identity and credibility being both used to define community in cyberspace and to be created within and by online communities.

    In some senses, online credibility is established in much the same way that it is established in the off line world, however, since there are two separate worlds, it is not surprising that there are both differences in the mechanisms found in each and interactions of the markers found in each.

    Architectures of credibility

    Following the model put forth by Lawrence Lessig
    Lawrence Lessig
    Lawrence "Larry" Lessig is an American academic and political activist. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications, and he has called for state-based activism to promote substantive...

     in Code: Version 2.0
    Code: Version 2.0
    Code: Version 2.0 is a book by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig which proposes that governments have broad regulatory powers over the Internet.- The book :...

    , 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
    • Linked to Physical Identity versus Internet-based Identity Only
    • Unrated Commentary System versus Rated Commentary System
    • Positive Feedback-oriented versus Mixed Feedback (positive and negative) oriented
    • Moderated versus Unmoderated

    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. Conversely, anonymous postings are inherently incredible. 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 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).

    Cyberculture studies

    The field of cyberculture studies examines the topics explained above, including the communities emerging within the networked
    Computer network
    A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of hardware components and computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information....

     spaces sustained by the use of modern technology. Students of cyberculture engage with political, philosophical, sociological, and psychological issues that arise from the networked interactions of human beings by humans who act in various relations to information science and technology.

    Donna Haraway
    Donna Haraway
    Donna J. Haraway is currently a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States...

    , Sadie Plant
    Sadie Plant
    Sadie Plant is a British author and philosopher.She earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Manchester in 1989, then taught at the University of Birmingham's Department of Cultural Studies before going on to found the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at the University of Warwick,...

    , Manuel De Landa
    Manuel de Landa
    Manuel De Landa, , is a writer, artist and philosopher who has lived in New York since 1975. He is presently the Gilles Deleuze Chair of Contemporary Philosophy and Science at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland; a lecturer at the Canisius College in Buffalo, New York; a lecturer...

    , Bruce Sterling
    Bruce Sterling
    Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.-Writings:...

    , Hendrik Speck, Kevin Kelly, Wolfgang Schirmacher
    Wolfgang Schirmacher
    Wolfgang Schirmacher is an editor and educator in the field of philosophy and the program director at the European Graduate School. He has edited many journals and written books, as well as developed curriculum in philosophical disciplines at major universities.-Biography:Schirmacher has taught...

    , Pierre Levy
    Pierre Levy
    Pierre Lévy is a French media scholar, most notable for the "collective intelligence" concept he introduced in a 1994 book, Levy's theory of knowledge spaces and the cosmopedia foreshadowed the emergence of Wikipedia, anticipates wikinomics, and the efficacy of shared distributed knowledge...

    , Victor J.Vitanza, Gregory Ulmer
    Gregory Ulmer
    Gregory Leland Ulmer is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Florida and a professor of Electronic Languages and Cybermedia at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.- Career :...

    , Charles D. Laughlin
    Biogenetic structuralism
    Biogenetic structuralism is a body of theory in anthropology. The perspective grounds discussions of learning, culture, personality and social action in neuroscience. The original book of that title represented an interdisciplinary merger of anthropology, psychology and the neurosciences...

    , and Jean Baudrillard
    Jean Baudrillard
    Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.-Life:...

     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 utopianism refers to any ideology based on the belief that advances in science and technology will eventually bring about a utopia, or at least help to fulfill one or another utopian ideal...

    , Technological Determinism
    Technological determinism
    Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society's technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by Thorstein Veblen , an American sociologist...

    , Social Constructionism
    Social constructionism
    Social constructionism and social constructivism are sociological theories of knowledge that consider how social phenomena or objects of consciousness develop in social contexts. A social construction is a concept or practice that is the construct of a particular group...

    , Postmodernism
    Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the...

    , Poststructuralism, and Feminist Theory
    Feminist theory
    Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical discourse, it aims to understand the nature of gender inequality...


    See also

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous (group)
      Anonymous is an international hacking group, spread through the Internet, initiating active civil disobedience, while attempting to maintain anonymity. Originating in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, the term refers to the concept of many online community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic,...

    • Cyberpunk
      Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

    • Cyberdelic
      Cyberdelic is a term used to either describe:# Immersion in cyberspace as a psychedelic experience....

    • Cyber law
    • Digitalism
      Digitalism may refer to:*Digital philosophy, a direction in philosophy and cosmology advocated by certain mathematicians and theoretical physicists.*Digitalism , a German electronic music group....

    • Information ethics
      Information ethics
      Information ethics has been defined as "the branch of ethics that focuses on the relationship between the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of information, and the ethical standards and moral codes governing human conduct in society". It provides a critical framework for considering...

    • Infosphere
      Infosphere is a neologism composed of information and sphere.The first documented use of the word "InfoSphere" was a 1971 Time Magazine book review by R.Z...

    • Netnography
      Netnography is the branch of ethnography that analyses the free behaviour of individuals on the Internet that uses online marketing research techniques to provide useful insights. The word “netnography” comes from “Inter[net]” and “eth[nography]” and was a process and term coined by Dr. Robert V....

    • Postliterate society
      Postliterate society
      A postliterate society is a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common. The term appears as early as 1962 in Marshall McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy...

    • Technology and society
      Technology and society
      Technology and society or technology and culture refers to cyclical co-dependence, co-influence, co-production of technology and society upon the other . This synergistic relationship occurred from the dawn of humankind, with the invention of simple tools and continues into modern technologies such...

    • Techno-progressivism
      Techno-progressivism, technoprogressivism, tech-progressivism or techprogressivism is a stance of active support for the convergence of technological change and social change...

    • Technocriticism
      Technocriticism is a branch of critical theory devoted to the study of technological change.Technocriticism treats technological transformation as historically specific changes in personal and social practices of research, invention, regulation, distribution, promotion, appropriation, use, and...

    • Technorealism
      Technorealism is an attempt to expand the middle ground between Techno-utopianism and Neo-Luddism by assessing the social and political implications of technologies so that people might all have more control over the shape of their future...

    • Wifipicning
      A wifipicning, a combination of the words Wi-Fi, picnic, and happening, is a social gathering of people, similar to a flash mob.Strangers and friends alike gather with their computers, which they connect to a local wireless network within a "wifi bubble" set up by the organizers...

    Further reading

    • David J. Bell, Brian D Loader, Nicholas Pleace, Douglas Schuler (2004). "Cyberculture: The Key Concepts", Routledge: London.
    • N. Katherine Hayles
      N. Katherine Hayles
      N. Katherine Hayles is a postmodern literary critic, most notable for her contribution to the fields of literature and science, electronic literature, and American literature. She is professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Program in Literature at Duke University. -Background:Hayles was...

       (1999),"How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics", Chicago University Press, Chicago, IL
    • Donna Haraway
      Donna Haraway
      Donna J. Haraway is currently a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States...

       (1991),"Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature", Routledge, New York, NY
    • Donna Haraway
      Donna Haraway
      Donna J. Haraway is currently a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States...

       (1997),"Modest Witness Second Millennium FemaleMan Meets OncoMouse", Routledge, New York, NY
    • Sherry Turkle
      Sherry Turkle
      Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a sociologist...

       (1997),"Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet", Simon & Schuster Inc, New York, NY

    External links

    (retrieved February 4, 2009) (retrieved February 4, 2009)
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