Saturday, 24 November 2007

Cyberspace: New Age of Human Society

Doll Face courtesy of andrewhu
The purpose of this critical thinking essay is to analyse the unpacking of this question based on Yoneji Masuda's claim about the 'new type of human society' with reference to the key terms: Information society, post-Industrial society. What extent is the level of judgement? This in turn would have to be backed up with academic evidence relevant to the subject of the post-Industrial society, Information society, Internet society and Cyberspace. Therefore a brief summary of the history of the Industrial Revolution and the Information society will be provided as a backdrop for this discussion on Cyberspace: New Age of Human Society. The structure of the Information society and the Internet society will detail succinctly within the framework of clarification. There will also be linkage to other authors such as Glen Porter, Erik Chia-yi Lee, Daniel Bell, Trevor Pinch, Wiebe E Bijker and Maria Bakardjiev.
HISTORY OVERVIEW: Industrial society/Information society One of the major technological inventions such as the Watt’s steam engine led to the start of the Industrial Revolution causing a worldwide replacement of manual labour throughout the countries of America/Britain/Europe during the 18th century. This in turn caused many people to move from the rural agricultural societies to the industrial societies (Porter, G. 2006). The computer/Information society is now seen as the successors to the steam engine/Industrial society. Today the mental capacity of people has been enhanced through the technological advances of these computer software applications. Therefore the computer-based public domain of the Internet which is ‘the knowledge frontier will become the potential market’ (Masuda, J. 1980, p.31) for the Cyberspace of the twenty-first century. This system of computer-communication technologies will ensure the transference of the information/technology/knowledge commodity globally twenty-four seven (Masuda, 1990). POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY: Information/technology/knowledge “Increasingly in post-industrial societies, technical skill becomes an overriding condition of competence for place and position” (Bell, D.1973, p.2) referring to the process of non-tangible goods in the information society.
Therefore the radios of unskilled workers of manual type are reduced to the lowest dominator. The concept of the ‘technocrat’ has evolved within the technical expertise catalyst of the universities’ intellectual/scientific communities. There is the ongoing prestige/status of belonging to an elitist class of knowledge workers of a technocratic age specialising in the dimensions of rationality. The ability of the ‘technocrats’ to seek within their mathematical problem-solving headspaces so as to measure the virtual realities of the directions/impacts/controls which always shape the predetermined ends of theoretical knowledge (Bell, 1973). Bell writes about the importance of the nuclear energy industry’s interrelated relationship with science/government. The appearance of the conceptual ideology of the 1945-1950s of cybernetics/social physics ‘future- orientation’ reality of the technocratic age of rationality, planning and foresight (Bell, 1973). How best to explain the required skills of a ‘technocrat’ would be to refer to this quote; “The technocratic mind view emphasises the logical, practical, problem-solving, instrumental, orderly, and disciplined approach to objectives, its reliance on a calculus, on precision and the measurement, and a concept of a system” (Bell, D, 1973, pp.348-349).
THE STRUCTURE: The Information Society The virtual reality of this mindscape of this computer-generated technology of the Information society will bear no resemblance to the Industrial society of the Western World. The reasoning behind this assumption as stated in the Image of the Future Information Society is that “the production of information values not material values will be the driving force” (Masuda, Y. 1990, p.3). In the past there was the conception of material wealth through the productive power of technology. Computer networks and databases will replace the factory environment of machines with the element of control over the storage and retrieval of mass blocks of information deemed to be invaluable as a commodity of exchange (Masuda, 1990). WORLD WIDE WEB: Internet Society To truly understand the underlying structure of the Internet society you must first refer to this quote “Institutions and organisations (such as the military or some specific industrial company), as well as organised or unorganised groups of individuals. The key requirement is that all members of a certain social group share the same set of meanings, attached to a specific artefact” (Pinch, T. and Bijker, W, E. 1987, p.30). This artefact of the new age discourse of information would never have been possible if not for the invention of the Internet browser considered today to be the most important fixture within the digital economy of the World Wide Web today. This invention by Tim Berners-Lee over sixteen years ago has been as important to the Internet society as the steam engine was the key to the Industrial Revolution (The Web: Fifteen years of browsing, 2005).
Maria Bakardjiev draws the attention to the reader in the Internet Society: The Internet in everyday life to the primus of the empowerment of the computer-mediated communication/information tool of the Internet would alter the very fabric of society in the twentieth century for the benefit of all. The first wave of ‘Internet Users’ were male computer geeks classified as university students, professors, computer professionals, semi-professional hobbyists who were able to access computers/softwares/Internet equipment and acquire skills. This ensured that the 1990s culture of computer usage belonged to “the professional precincts of the technological elite” (Bakardjiev, M. 2005, p.3). The ordinary people in the office workplace did not hold jobs that required the processing of information to justify the expenditure of computer networking. Although many people decided to go beyond the academic context of the Internet which was treated as a culture in its own right because of the personal internet –related spaces of electronic ‘interiors’ with the empowering potential for the Internet user (Bakardjiev,2005).
CYBERSPACE: New Age of Human Society The concept of ‘Cyberspace’ was invented by William Gibson firstly in a short story Burning Chrome 1981 and secondly in his first novel Neuromancer in 1984 (Concepts>>>Cyberspace, 2006). This is how a work of fiction can mirror the reality of the future as the “the Cyberspace has become the symbol, not only of the literary movement, but also, together with the Internet, of the post-modern information society"(Concepts>>>Cyberspace, 2006, p.2). The implications of virtual reality and new communication technology have been objects of much theorization and critical interest (Concepts>>>Cyberspace, 2006). In Erik Chia-yi Lee’s Thinking Cyber-Subjectivity: Ideology and the subject concerning how the fundamental need for the computer networks of the Cyberspace mentality for the Information age. There is the conceptual reality through the adaptation of the cyber-self which can ensure that anyone can shed the confining skin of identity and collect the multifaceted masks of social discourses of the global context of the Internet. The concept of the Cyber-society will be a virtual space without borders or barriers which will create a sense of the Utopia of opportunities for the new human life forms of the twenty-first century (Lee, 1996).
In conclusion the essay question based on Yoneji Masuda’s claim about the ‘new type of human society’ has proved to be a truthful statement in the twenty-first century. Watt’s steam engine design was the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution in America/Britain/Europe during the eighteenth century which changed the demographics of employment in rural societies. The computer/information society has enabled people to process data at amazing speed which enhances the brains’ capacity for the absorption of the information/technology/knowledge of the Internet. The post-industrial society of the 1945-1950s technocratic age of nuclear energy was the turning point for science/government with the emphasis on the rational of the dimension of mathematics. There is today in the twenty-first century the realisation of the empowering concepts of the technological advances of the computer networks of the information society. The unlimited potential of the Internet will always be utilised through this artefact of the new age discourse of social contact. Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to the male computer geeks who were the pioneers with the forethought to dare to step into an alien mindscape of technical possibilities. The future is in the Cyberspace of the twenty-first century which will enable most people to display a sense of freedom and be like the chameleon who changes its colours to blend into the digital realities of the binary coded landscapes. William Gibson is also like-minded as the author of the genre of writing that first introduced the public to the realities of Cyberspace.
Bakardjiev, M, 2005, Internet Society: The Internet in Everyday Life, Sage Publications Ltd, London. Bell, D. 1973, Who Will Rule? Politicians and Technocrats in the Post-Industrial Society, Chapter six, from The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, New York: Basic Book [Don Mills] General Publishing, Extract in Political Sociology, viewed 24th November 2006,
Concepts>>>Cyberspace, 2006, The Cyberpunk Movement-Cyberspace, viewed 24th November 2006, http// Routledge, UK. Clark, S, R, L. 1995, How to Live Forever: Science Fiction and Philosophy, Routledge, UK. Lee, E, C-Y.1996, Thinking Cyber-Subjectivity: Ideology and the Subject, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, National Taiwan University, viewed 23rd November 2006,
Masuda, Y. 1990, Image of the Future Inform Society, Chapter 1, Managing in the Information Society: releasing synergy Japanese style, Blackwell, Oxford, (pp.3-10). Pinch, T, J. and Bijker, W, E. 1987, The social construction of facts and artefacts, In Bijker, W, E. Hughes, T, P. and Pinch, T, J. (Eds) The social constructions of technological systems, (pp. 17-50), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Porter, G. 2006, Director, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware, Industrial Revolution, Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia, viewed 23rd November 2006, The Web: Fifteen years of browsing, 2005, Technology, United Press International, viewed 24th November 2006, Rapatzikou, T, G. 2004, Gothic Motifs in the Fiction of William Gibson, Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York

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