Virtual Publics: Policy and Community in an Electronic Age

Virtual Publics: Policy and Community in an Electronic Age

Virtual Publics: Policy and Community in an Electronic Age

Virtual Publics: Policy and Community in an Electronic Age

Synopsis

How does virtuality affect reality? Fourteen experts consider this question from the perspective of law, architecture, rhetoric, philosophy, and art. Nearly all of the contributors have been online since before Netscape and a graphical World Wide Web; thus they have a thorough understanding of the cultural shifts the Internet has produced and been affected by, and they have a keen appreciation for the potential of the medium. Most scholarship on cyberculture has repeatedly emphasized that our offline selves determine how we are able to use technology, that real life affects what we do online. This volume is an attempt to reverse that discussion, to demonstrate that how we live online affects our lives offline as well. A virtual public is not an unreal one.

Excerpt

This book grew out of a panel originally presented at the American Studies Association conference in 1997. The goal of that panel was the same as the goal of this volume—namely, to argue that the Internet is a complex and often incompletely understood influence on public discourse and public life, that while offline interaction affects online activity, what happens online also shapes what happens in face-to-face environments. The distinction of this volume, however, rests not only in the recursiveness of the overall argument in examining how the virtual feeds back into offline environments, but also in the interdisciplinary nature of the contributions.

Whether it is called cyberculture or the more broadly defined technology and culture, research on how technology intersects with lived experience is an interdisciplinary endeavor. This book is designed to be an inquiry into how technology affects culture, but it refuses to subscribe to one disciplinary or methodological approach. Having researched technology and its effects on interaction and communication from the perspective of rhetoric, I have found that while most fields share a general research concern regarding technology and culture, the debate over disciplinary approaches tends to occlude useful conversation. This volume, then, attempts to bring together a range of scholars who are looking at the same overall question, but from varying perspectives. It is my hope that no one discipline represented in this collection becomes prioritized over the others. Indeed, I would argue that useful analyses are most likely . . .

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