Cultural and Cross-National Issues
To what extent is there a new culture evolving in cyberspace, with its own values, beliefs, and norms adhered to by its users? Subgroups, such as hackers and cyberpunks, may adhere to different norms than other users. Cyberspace is part of the postmodern epoch, where information and knowledge replace capital and labor. However, whereas geographical boundaries may be overcome, cultural differences could hinder the Internet from becoming an institution with shared values, norms, and rituals. The interrelationship of these issues with cyberspace and culture are outlined and opportunities and risks offered by these developments are discussed (cf. Appendix B).
Part I and chapters 1 through 3 set the stage in so far as they outline how the Internet has offered new opportunities for communicating around the globe. Governments have tried to set policy and regulation where necessary, which in turn has affected the economics of Internet useage by consumers and organizations. Often, however, people are unaware of how cultural differences may affect Internet users. Our values, beliefs, interests, and objectives guide which customs, norms, and rituals we adhere to and perceive as morally acceptable. Accordingly, culture provides the foundation for our understanding of justice and, ultimately, of the law as well as how we interpret and administer our laws (e.g., regulatory concerns). In turn, culture also influences our cyberspace choices, practices, the design of technical systems (e.g., video game entertainment), and the possible development of institutional characteristics for the Internet.