pit on 9 Sep 2000 20:49:28 -0000

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<nettime> there is no place in cyberspace

"cyberspace" disappeared with the millenium bug, a romantic notion of
adventures in unmarked territories, tales of etherel beeings, lonely
cybercowboys, and the free choice of gender, class & race. Stories about
Muds, Usenet-communities, digital cities and an Academic hyperproduction
which saw an emmerging theory in every concept by attaching the word cyber
to it. Cyberspace has left us with the burn rate of venture capital and
there might be a few avatars waving from websites which still struggle to
realize the full pontential of virtual reality. The same way as "the web"
did overwrite "the net", cyberspace was overwritten by "e-commerce". (and
since virilio we know anyway that speed governs space.)

what defines 'cyberspace' today are time and money. With the space
metaphor, one was able to blow up the dull technological grid of servers,
clients, routers and interconnections into a 'virtual landscape' ready to
be colonized by myth and imagination, and later on by hungry hordes of
start-ups. "the matrix" as Gibson called it, this combination of a night
in neon-hong-kong, the central perspective of the movie tron, somewhat
like a chip architecture, somewhat like a Dali picture, and certainly like
an atari game of the mid-80ies, has become just another enigmatic version
of "blade runner". "Space!" was the first thing some people thought when
they looked in the black emptyness of the terminal, and created the game
"Space War", "moon lander" and later "elite". The astronomic space, also
rather uncolonized, known by the glory of pioneering technology and
sciences, by old myths and science fiction stories became the blueprint of

"digital space" is of course a pure construction, a concept to design
visual interfaces, and project a known order of things into a realm which
is defined by corporations, individuals and instituations which control
codes, standards, and operate within the laws of electrodynamics.  
cyberspace herited a lot from classic philosphy, or rather kosmology.  
today cyberspace becomes just another reactionary nostalgic concept in a
cultural techno-politics which already puts the 'sub-culture' of the 80ies
and 90ies into the retro-generator to attract newbies and establish a bit
more. the "digital devide" is exactly about this, people who are damned to
accept the laws of geography and people who can travel freely and dream
about beeing "on the net". the idea that people have to fight for a place
in cyberspace is merely an illusion, when it comes to their preexisting
material problems. it almost borders to the comparision of people fighting
for a place in heaven instead of changing things on earth. there is no
space to live in cyberspace. there never has been.

but, well, as an interface metaphor replacing the desktop, space might
have a potential to reappear. first in multiuser games, or infograhics,
later on entertainment channels and portal sites. the space metaphor makes
sense just because people who have the time basically know that there is
no place in cyberspace, but plenty of games to play and plenty of
harddrives to fill. the maps of cyberspace will not only follow the grid
of the main pipes of bandwidth which follow the geography of economic
growth. they also map the user-activity, page impressions,
key-word-searches, most frequent chat channels and clouds of hyperlinks.
astronomic space might be never really colonized by humans but it could
become a master narrative to structure the time spent by large ammounts of
consumers. cyberspace is where the entertainment is.


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