Times of the Technoculture: From the Information Society to the Virtual Life

By Kevin Robins; Frank Webster | Go to book overview

11

THE VIRTUAL PACIFICATION OF SPACE

'So it is the Demiurge,' he said. 'One of the three major fundamental Arcana. The picture shows a tumbler standing at a bench scattered with miscellaneous objects. This means that in you there is an organiser, one who does battle with a world in disorder which he seeks to master by whatever means come to his hand. He appears to succeed, but we must not forget that the Demiurge is also an acrobat: his work is an illusion and his order illusory. Alas, he is unaware of this. Skepticism is not his strength.'

(Michel Tournier, Friday)

Ah! may you return to your disorder, and the world to its.

(René Char)

In this chapter, we shall be concerned with the nature and significance of what are now commonly referred to as virtual spaces, the network spaces that have been created in and through new information and communications technologies. Generally, there has been a sense of emancipatory possibilities. Thus, Linda Harasim declares, in a very enthusiastic expression of the new techno-idealism, that the digital networks have instituted no less than a new 'social environment'. 'The network has become,' she maintains, 'one of the places where people meet to do business, collaborate on a task, solve a problem, organise a project, engage in personal dialogue, or exchange social chitchat'. There is an eager expectation of emerging new spaces of conviviality: 'networlds offer a new place for humans to meet, and promise new forms of social discourse and community'. 1 Even though he mobilises a rather different terminology-derived from actor-network theory-Stephen Graham seems to be making much the same point. In his case, it is a matter of the ways in which 'new technologies become closely enrolled into complex, contingent and subtle blendings of human actors and technical artefacts, to form actor-networks'. Virtual culture is conceived in terms of new human-technological-spatial linkages, characterised as 'intimate and recombinatory', and constituting what are called new 'relational assemblies'.

-238-

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Times of the Technoculture: From the Information Society to the Virtual Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Techno-Visions 11
  • 1 - Cultural History of Pandaemonium 13
  • 2 - Engaging with Luddism 39
  • 3 - The Hollowing of Progress 63
  • Part II - Genealogies of Information 87
  • 4 - The Long History of the Information Revolution 89
  • 5 - The Cybernetic Imagination of Capitalism 111
  • 6 - Propaganda 131
  • Part III - The Politics of Cyberspace 147
  • 7 - Cyberwars 149
  • 8 - Education as Knowledge and Discipline 168
  • 9 - Deconstructing the Academy 192
  • Part IV - Living in Virtual Space 219
  • 10 - Prospects a of Virtual Culture 221
  • 11 - The Virtual Pacification of Space 238
  • Notes 261
  • Index 307
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