War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-Tech Assault on Reality

War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-Tech Assault on Reality

War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-Tech Assault on Reality

War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-Tech Assault on Reality

Synopsis

Warning: A technological revolution is unfolding that promises, in the words of its creators, to redefine what it means to be human. Face-to-face communication ("F2F" to those in the know) is quickly becoming obsolete; already we turn to computers for information, entertainment, companionship- even love. Science fiction? Hardly. This is the brave new vision of the digital avant-garde, computer crusaders leading a high-tech assault on what was once known as reality. Sophisticated, well-funded, unabashedly messianic, they have the power, the technological know-how, and the marketplace savvy to make good on many of their wildest prophecies. With War of the Worlds, Mark Slouka gives us a funny, but eerily disturbing, humanist's look at the culture of cyberspace.

Excerpt

I first stumbled upon (or into) the world of virtual systems while teaching undergraduate seminars on twentieth-century culture at a major California university. The head lecturer, an intelligent and witty woman, was, it turned out, an expert on cyberspace, or the closest thing to an expert possible in an area of study still essentially in its embryonic state, dominated by hackers from a halfdozen related fields.

Every course has its own signature. In the stresses and gaps, we can read the lecturer's own interests. The first thing that struck me about this particular class (a tenweek survey of contemporary culture from World War I to the present "and beyond") was the unusual emphasis on Nietzsche and the Dadaists.Students largely innocent of the Triple Alliance and the Munich Pact, the decline of European economic hegemony and the effects of decolonization, could explain the significance of automatic writing, identify and discuss Duchamp's Fountain, recite Nietzsche's dictum "the breaker is the creator." Virtually all understood the validity of the attack on rationalism and objectivity, the moral bankruptcy of Western liberalism.

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