Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cyberspace and Real Space: The Blame Game!

To be quite frank, with you, after continuing my readings in this book, the people that are giving their viewpoints (not just the authors who have done, in my opinion, a marvelous job defending their views, but we at the receiving end ) are not even sure what they are fighting for or against! Some say cyberspace is a reality that opens up new possiblities; others think that cyberspace is a made-up reality that does not need to exist. One view sees cyberspace as a force to be reckoned with and embraced because, as the old cliche goes, "This is the wave of the future", while another view states that we are still grounded on earth and cyberspace should be controlled. Neil Postman wonders if we really need cyberspace, meaning that we can actually live without it. One of my classmates feels that we are "corporate pawns", but I highly have to disagree with that because that statement makes us all look like some ignorant buffoons with no brain. The reality is that we do have thinking ability and we don't need to be influenced by anyone because we have a choice. While this matter may be difficult to resolve, it is not hard to realize that there are conflicting sides to this issue. It is also safe to say that the main perpetrators of this cyberspace issue like to be engaged in what I call "The Blame Game".

Yes, the blame game, because the private sector (meaning business) infiltrated every nook and cranny with computers and in a way monopolized their industries by cutting and downsizing their companies in favor of computer technology. By convincing the government to receive funding for their technological research, the corporations made Clinton's government an offer it couldn't refuse (quoting "The Godfather"). When you cut out jobs, you weaken the economy. It's like giving illegal immigrants cheap labor to do, thus shifting the income potential to those higher up. Talk about decentralization, computers devalue work and produce an inefficient economy and industry because those higher up the ladder hoard all of the money and don't give anything back. Also, the corporations that invested in this technology went out on an advertising rampage to subliminally seduce the weak minds of those in the population, young people of course, and then adults followed suit, leading them to believe that they have to own a computer because it is the future and it is modern. So the ones who perpetrated the whole thing turn around, blame the millions who got hooked on cyberspace like a drug, and pointed the finger back at them blaming them (the people) for their crazy demand of computers. In turn, corporations begin crying foul (Microsoft, Google, etc.) so they now want to start regulating the marketplace for tons of reasons: copyright infringement, privacy, cybercrime, you name it, a bunch of made-up maladies that plague cyberspace, and all because these companies gave the people what they "thought" they wanted, when in fact, this was a made-up reality to fatten their pockets. And now you talk about regulating cyberspace? GET REAL!!

I honestly believe in copyright protection. Let's look at it from a professional point of view. I have heard the recent phrase that with computer technology, the user is both the consumer and producer of his/her work. Now examine that statement closely. By allowing a commoner to publish or produce his/her work online and "borrow from other sources", the person is "cheapening" (and I mentioned it in a previous post) the art or the profession of Public Commuincations, which should only be reserved for those like us who are investing thousands of dollars on an education to work in a capacity that proves rewarding, for those professors we have who impart their knowledge on us, and for those professionals who do this work for a living. Their ideas AND work should be protected and should not be susceptible to the hands of those that possess little to no skills or who do it with the intent to capitalize from it at a low-end scale. This is a slap in the face for us, and this merits that work done on our part receives the protection it deserves under copyright protection. However, I also think that copyrighted work should be available to the masses for acquiring knowledge and for reflection when used in the education field or just for the sake of being informed about life. As long as the work is not reproduced for illicit gain, any copyrighted work should be shared amongst people assuming that broader knowledge will be attained. See, it is a complicated issue but it needs to be dealt with carefully. On the internet, copyright law should be enforced, especially if it is work that has been published and is out in the market. A word to the wise: maybe with regulation of the internet people will become discouraged in putting their work out on cyberspace and will resort to traditional methods of distribution, which have proven very effective over time. It seems that people all over, businesses included, need some "wake-up call" to let them realize that a virtual reality is not such a happy place to live in. This is probably the best way to tell those heavy users of cyberspace, "The honeymoon's over!"

Is there a way to stop this technology machine from becoming a monster? Sure, Just Say NO! Sounds easy to say but difficult to do, sure, but it is not impossible. As Postman suggests, we need to search within ourselves and sometimes look at our society to understand and deeply examine if this is something we can live without or curtail to some degree. Hey, we lived in a world without cyberspace and there was more of an order. Today, it is all a mess, yes decentralized. And ironically, the behavior online mirrors the trends in human behavior. I'll give two examples: years ago you could go to McDonald's and people would make two or three lines to order. Today a line is a convoluted mess. People step all over you and no one seems to know what register to go to, that is if there are more than one cashier available! Their reduction in personnel is another idea rooted in our cyberspace or the idea of "flextime" at work, as Professor Strate mentions in his chapter on Cybertime. Another example is in the way people dress, it's like they just woke up from bed. Years ago, people, especially men, would dress up or be more orderly in their appearance. This similar attitude is present in cyberspace. Decentralization is not the best world to live in. Too much decentralization leads to entropy, and entropy could lead to some conflict. Corporations need to stop playing the blme game and take responsibility for the troubles they have created in creating cyberspace. People, in turn, need to start weakening corporate power, by not continually falling into the cyber-trap set out for everyone. One of the ways to do it...exercising self-control when it comes to the use of a computer and what you want to be displayed. Amen.


  1. In addition to my post, and in the continued reading of it, I would like to highlight Herbetr Zettl's chapter on virtual reality and its association to "Plato's Cave". It is an interesting point that Zettl makes in that with virtual reality comes responsibility. His notion of employing rules similar to real-life laws is great because in porceeding with certain behaviors and in making the worng choices, people using virtual reality tend to think that they can "get way with" killing or seriously hurting someone in a virtual scene. Rather, VR should serve as some "reverse spychology" alternative which teaches an important lesson to be less amoral and more sensitive to life in general. The use of violent video games and even loud graphics that are utilized in some computer web page can cause a person to detach from reality and submerge him/her into a fantasy world. Sometimes, it offers a point of no return. This is something that must be reflected upon and examined closely so virtual reality does not end up causing mere casualties out of humanity.

    Professor Strate's chapter is so "real" and makes perfect sense in associating a computer to time. It is this "time" that is taken one step further with the concpet of "multidimensionality". Yes, this is possible through hypertexting and hypermedia, the same things we take for granted. Professor Strate explains this in a way that allows for the reader to fully understand what is going on in the computer world and how it affects our way of thinking. Yes, multidimensionality, it is the mere fact of opening up a web page and clickingon some hyperlink which helps us open up to other dimensions. This "time" is created allowing us to have some control over the functions and even the "time " we need to conduct the research we are effectuating. And yes, this takes our average "clock" on and kicks it up a notch. The computer's internal clock establishes for some standard of time to exist in order to make its operations possible.

    Finally, Neil Postman surprised me because I expected to see a longer chapter, but it seems that he didn't need much to say to make his point and argument valid. By saying that we have too much information out there and no substance to it, he literally "laughed" at all of us in the face because we are (myself included, I am somewhat guilty!) too reliant on cyberspace and its potential that it is easy to become "submerged" into some unknown form of a made-up reality seeking escapism. In turn, we do not confront the real problems that we face, which is what we should be doing and not seeking "fake" realities, thus throwing us into a state of self-denial. What a shame! But he gave us the eerie statement that apparently, all of this info-glut will force us to revert to traditional thinker's ideas and re-examination of literary works that will allow us to relate back to humanity (liberate us from cyberspace and put us back in this world - p.392). That is a beautiful quote; this cat (Postman) is the man!

  2. Individuals can only do so much. I can say no to owning a computer myself, but I can't say no to living in a world with computers, a world shaped by computer technology.

  3. I as well am guilty of relying on cyberspace. Makes me think that I should almost cut back. Just thinking back to the last week--I made reservations online, checked the weather online, watched a TV show online and the list goes on...