The ‘Space’ in ‘Cyberspace’ & the Sociability of the Bridge: Introductory Notes

This past week, news of Elon Musk’s impending acquisition of Twitter threw me into a bunch of readings, and conversations, regarding the platform. All of these eventually made me realise that it was about time I published something about my own work. I’ve been poring over the intersection of Twitter, Fan Communities and Place-making since early 2019, shortly after I finished my degree in Architecture and Urbanism. Back then, I used to say I was an Architect trying to look into ‘cyberspace’. This word, ‘cyberspace’, however, wacky, was my best shot at getting people to understand I was interested in alternative ideas of space, as an architect. 

Most people outside my field would stumble upon first hearing about it, but the way I worded things was enough for them to figure out there should be some sort of connection to be made there. That is because there is, indeed, a connection to be made there — and I am not even the first Architect who brought forth such an analysis. Moreso, none of the Architects to whom I’ve talked about my research so far, however removed from this context, has found it hard to understand the point, even without much explanation — It might sound unexpected, but surely not impractical. 

Starting without proper supervision meant that I had to cover a lot of ground on my own. The present text was put together from multiple drafts and notes I wrote over the years, as I made my way through years’ worth of material to establish the foundation of what I was trying to do — use my original body of knowledge to guide me into the new fields I was interested in. A lot has changed since I took my first notes, three years or so ago. I, too, have changed, and I surely feel more ready to publish this now than I did before. I hope that my own investigations can help others who might be interested in getting started down the same path.

This post is also available on Medium.

Outline

  1. Architecture and Other Spaces (go)
  2. The ‘Space’ in ‘Cyberspace’ (go)
    1. Architectural Space (go)
    2. Cyberspace & Other Metaphors (go)
    3. A Digital Sense of Place (go)
  3. The Sociability of the Bridge (go)
    1. Movement, Presence and Experience (go)
    2. The Bridge & Further Investigations (go)
  4. References (go)
Cover of AD Architectural Design Volume 65, No. 11/12 (Nov.-Dec. 1995), titled “Architects in Cyberspace”. Available at: https://monoskop.org/images/2/2d/AD_118_Architects_in_Cyberspace_1996.pdf

1. Architecture and Other Spaces

In very general terms, Architecture is concerned with framing the human experience, being the appropriate mediator between the world and ourselves (Pallasmaa, 2015, 17), to the extent of humanity’s own dimension. This expertise is hard to fathom; architects’ distinguishing claim is the ability to order space through design, and realise a vision of ordered space (Quek, 2012, vi). Even though other design professions can also claim the sort of articulated vision that is required to achieve the realisation of design projects – from product design to landscape architecture -, not all of them encompass the same range of different scales of interaction as the architect & urbanist. In fact, architects have been found to develop a very particular point of view in regards to the physical world that surrounds us and with which we interact (Dana, 2016, 2-3), because, since we are trained to design buildings, we are trained to notice the invisible qualities of spaces — namely, how they are built, and how the different parts work to achieve their purpose upon use.

In the introduction of his 2006 collection of essays “Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture”, Henry Jenkins says that “the essence of being methodologically conscious is to be honest about how you know what you know” (2006, 6); as an architect, K-pop fan, and intense Twitter user over a decade, my study started from observation. I noticed, from daily interactions with fans, that the branch of International English language-based ARMY on Twitter had developed a very strong, unique, sense of identity, which I believed was intensely location-based. In other terms, I believed that the intense interaction between I-ARMY and Twitter had generated a sense of place, something that emerges when a specific location in space is invested with particular meaning, which might occur at many different scales. I believe that this interaction had spatial analogous qualities, since ‘place’ is a territory whose boundaries are defined by a sense of being “inside”, “being somewhere” as opposed to “anywhere”, due to an intensity that connects sociality to spatiality in everyday life (Kalay, and Marx, 2003, 20) (Dovey, 2010, 3). 

At first, my biggest challenge was figuring out the appropriate framework and method that could help me move beyond my initial observations. Even though my body of knowledge made me capable of identifying the phenomenon being considered, my lack of previous experience with the fields related to Digital Media forced me to focus on expanding my theoretical understanding. As previously mentioned, the present text is the result of my investigations to develop the understanding of digital spaces and spatialities that would later allow me to interpret the phenomenon that gave rise to my study. 

The starting point that sparked my insight is the understanding that social behaviour is often subject to the architecture that houses it (Anders, 2004, 398). The underlying premise is that, to understand the occupation and maintenance of a digitally-based community of shared taste, we should analyse how the platform which hosts them affords a sense of place, and how this sense of place interacts with their individual and community-generated sense of presence and belonging, and what this interaction brings about. In future writings, I hope to unpack the specifics of the nature of these spaces. 

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2. The ‘Space’ in ‘Cyberspace’

2.1. Architectural Space

Architects have been indulging in figuring out the spatial nature of the internet, according to the idea of the ‘space’ in ‘cyberspace’, for at least 30 years. Scholars from other fields, such as Law and Geography, have also engaged in such studies. The amount of available work meant that there was a lot to consider and learn from, but my readings made me realise that this matter wasn’t a settled affair.

‘Space’ in itself is a concept hard to grasp that demands different definitions, from different fields, to account for its complexity. According to social theorists, for example, ‘space’ is the fabric of reality, but also the expression of society, being both a product of society but also a means of production of society (Lefebvre, 1991, 26-27). For example, as Manuel Castells (1990; 2010) defines it, the ‘space of flows’ is  the “spatial form characteristic of social practices that dominate and shape the network society … the material organization of time-sharing social practices that work through flows” (2010, 442), also defined as “the material arrangements that allow for simultaneity of social practises without territorial contiguity” (1990, 1). 

Italian architect Bruno Zevi frames it differently – he conceptualises ‘space’ from the perspective of ‘the void’, the infinite, continuous substance of existence, whose contiguity is disrupted to delimit and create the setting that affords the unravelment of life. Sounds overly poetic, but, according to Pérez-Gómez (2006), this is exactly the poiesis of Architecture – the possibility of making. Zevi believed that the matter of space was indeed the main, leading concern of Architecture, as it’s been since the late 18th Century (being first properly articulated in the works of August Schmarsow). 

According to Stalder (2003), the space of flows consists of three elements: the medium through which things flow, the things that flow, and the nodes among which the flows circulate. This flow is defined by ‘movement’ and ‘human action’, more specifically movement that takes place through human action and creates the “specific social conditions for our everyday life” (2003, 2). This understanding of space considers digital communication technology and information as part of the material arrangement of social practises, however different in nature they might be. For example, the dimensions in electronically mediated flows are not fixed, because space can expand and contract very quickly according to volume and speed of flow, like an intangible bridge that bends time and space upon bridging. The ‘space of flows’ would then be the expression (not a reflection) of the networked society (‘society’ meaning ‘mode of production’); it’s a social product, but also a means of social production, to the extent that it embodies social relationships (Lefebvre, 1991, 26-27).

Lefebvre’s theory understands the production of space as a dialectic process conceptualised in three dimensions: spatial practise (material production), representations of space (production of knowledge), representational space (production of symbols and signs). Each of these moments represents an experience mediated by the body, summarised in the triad perceived-conceived-lived (1991, 11-40). Cohen proposes that this triad could also apply to the production of ‘cyberspace’ (2007, 236). Understanding that the space of flows of the networked society comprises all that is offline and online, I work from the premise that the perceived-conceived-lived triad of the production of space already covers this extension. Therefore, what we call ‘cyberspace’ is a networked extension of space that we call ‘physical’, and an expression of the networked society. As previously stated, this definition informs that all material instances, tangible or not, are at play in the production of this space.

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2.2. Cyberspace & Other Metaphors

But what is ‘cyberspace’? Ottis & Lorents (2011) defined it as being a “time-dependent set of interconnected information systems and the human users that interact with these systems” (2010, 267). The inclusion of the idea of ‘time-dependence’ highlights the increased complexity of the electronic networks that make up cyberspace over extremely short time, in comparison to other time-dependent systems (ibid., 269). This definition, however, does very little in defining the ‘space’ aspect in question, which is my first main concern as an Architect. This investigation will thread into the metaphorical aspect of using the word ‘space’, so it’s important to point out from the start that the concept of space is far expanded beyond the limits of the built environment. According to American Architect Peter Anders, space can be regarded as “the coherent, internally generated display of sensory information conditioned by body, mind and memory” (2004). This “psychosomatic definition of space” stresses the cognitive nature of space, instead of the architectural emphasis on the built environment. 

I was able to acknowledge this cognitive aspect early on in my research, not just through Anders’s work, but also due to the fact that, initially, I considered a pursuit of ‘cyberspace’ to be an investigation into the character of ‘virtual’ space. I quickly learned that the word ‘virtual’ had a range that, at first, seemed to extend beyond my intended scope of research. According to Dr Or Ettlinger (2007), ‘virtual space’ is intangible, but it’s spatially visible (such as in paintings or movies, for example), whereas the Internet is a conceptual space — one that can be perceived, conceived, experienced, but not touched nor directly seen (regardless of the visible features that the Internet possesses, or the material conditions that make it possible). We can’t ask ourselves “Where is cyberspace?” and figure out an exact Cartesian location (2005, 9), but it can’t exist outside of given materialisations, however immaterial it seems to be (Blanchette, 2011). 

In fact, the materiality of the internet is evident in that it can’t even be accessed or experienced without the mediation of electronic devices (Kalay, and Marx, 2003, 20). Moreso, It is an experience with which we can relate upon symbols; Cohen (2007), for example, says that it is experienced in terms of distances measured in clicks or retrieval times rather than in walking or driving times, but which are distances nonetheless (2007, 229). To Cicognani (1998), it is a linguistic construction, since any ‘object’ found in cyberspace is a result of some sort of language (since information is structured on language) (1998, 19). 

Nonetheless, according to Cohen (2007):

. . . The important question is not what kind of space cyberspace is, but what kind of space a world that includes cyberspace is and will become. Cyberspace is part of lived space, and it is through its connections to lived space that cyberspace must be comprehended and, as necessary, regulated. In particular, a theory of cyberspace and space must consider the rise of networked space, the emergent and contested relationship between networked space and embodied space, and the ways in which networked space alters, instantiates, and disrupts geographies of power. (2007, 213)

However, the ‘cyberspace’ terminology, even though still present in certain contexts such as discussions of national sovereignty, and popular imagination, is outdated. Other words emerged over time, in attempts to describe, or conceive, new ideas about what digital space was supposed to be or look like (such as the 2022 buzzword ‘Web3’, coined by computer scientist Gavin Wood in 2014, which describes a vision for decentralised internet). ‘Web 2.0’, our present environment, became current in late 2004, representing the shift between an information-oriented web, consisting mainly of static web pages with little opportunities for interaction, to a system of Web-based applications (or platforms, such as blogs, wikis, social networkings services, multimedia sharing sites) centred around developing online communities based on greater degrees of interactivity, inclusion, collaboration, authentic materials and digital literacy skills (Harrison and Thomas, 2009, 112). 

Arora (2012) states that the replacement of ‘cyberspace’ by ‘web 2.0’ is evidence of how common understandings of online spaces have changed over time (2012, 2). We can say that the ‘web 2.0’ terminology conceptualises the internet from a network approach, focusing on the interaction between people, rather than what individuals do on their own (Haythornthwaite, 2005, 127) — and might even account for an understanding of the flow of information that navigates through physical and digital space — while the ‘cyberspace’ metaphor conceives the existence of a ‘space’ that is experienced mediated by embodied human cognition (Cohen, 2007, 226), in a monolithic sense, where interactions are carried out. 

These and other metaphors have been useful to help facilitate cognition of the internet’s structure and characteristics, providing visible cues that helped mapping tools, such as the Internet Crawler — the ‘Web’, the ‘Net’, the digital ‘public sphere’, ‘hyperspace’ or ‘cyberspace’. For instance, in 1998, visualisation maps were conceived like astronomical charts, due to an understanding of the Web as hyperspace (Rogers, 2009, 120). But they are limited, due to the nature of metaphors — they highlight the features of the thing being described that are more aligned with the metaphor while necessarily hiding the ones that are inconsistent with that metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003, 10). Even so, our scale of abstraction does help us understand the connections from these symbolic objects to our physical world, in a way that aids cognition (Anders, 1999, 47). Internet users don’t experience this perception of space and sociability only because of how we call it, but because the other metaphors and symbols that are encountered online describe the experience as such, upon mediation by our embodied cognition (Cohen, 2007, 230). That happens because spatialisation operates in the realm of language, at an entirely unconscious level (ibid., 229). We can’t pinpoint the Cartesian location of Twitter, for example, but we can recognise the experience of a shared social reality that resembles a spatial one.

An example from Anders (1996) provides a practical illustration. In an attempt to create models of the spatiality provided by Multi-user Domains (MUDs), Anders and his students noticed that users couldn’t provide specific details of how they envisioned these domains — not in a way that could help researchers build models of their text-based environments. On a collective scale, users weren’t concerned with the dimensions or the shape of these spatial metaphors, not as much as they cared if these layouts allowed the sort of interaction they thought to have experienced (1996, 60-61). In other words, even though users drew from the physical space to conceive the environment, their perception was more related to how they conceived the sociability afforded by these environments, interpreted in spatial, or geometrical terms, following their own set of references. Harrison and Dourish (1996) support this claim by arguing that this happens because it is a shared sense of place that is the actual behavioural framing for how users behave online. The affordability of this sense of place is the point that allows different types of experience of space to be considered in relation to one another.

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2.3 A Digital Sense of Place

Ultimately, the question of place rests on the relation between spatiality and sociality (Dovey, 2010, 6). In Architecture practice, the sense of ‘place’ is something hard to achieve, because architects can’t control all aspects of the interaction between people and the built environment. The intention behind the conception of the design doesn’t amount to anything unless users of that space can perceive the proposal (Holl, 2006). It is, however, easier to identify upon analysis of a space; places emerge as a function of experience, and from practice (Cohen, 2007, 231). In Architecture theory, it has been normally associated with definitions such as ‘stable’, ‘timeless’, ‘essential’, or even ‘eternal’, stemming from the heideggerian tradition interpreted in the works of architectural theorists such as Christian Norberg-Schulz (1926-2000), who theorised the ‘genius loci’ — the ‘spirit of place’. 

Contemporary architectural theorists such as Christopher Alexander or Juhani Pallasmaa support the idea that the sense of place is connected to timeless qualities of human existence in space. Others, like Dovey (2010), favour approaches that are less grounded in ‘being’ and more grounded in ‘becoming’; this view allows for the sense of place to go beyond the stabilised modes of dwelling, such as homeland and history (2010, 4). Saar and Palang (2009) identify several different scales of place making, such as supranational, national, local and individual, but also other dimensions that are harder to group under one specific scale, like meaning attached because of events, or ownership, among others (2009, 7-13). It is in place-making that we discuss the emotional dimension of spaces, like attachment, exclusion or belonging.

The shared notion of belonging is vital to the development of this study — as Kalay and Marx (2003) put it, place is a territory whose boundaries are defined by a sense of being ‘inside’, “being somewhere” as opposed to anywhere” (2003, 20). This is ultimately what defines the nature of the space being considered — if, and how, it is delimited. Bruno Zevi (1978) says that every architectural object constitutes a limit in itself, a border, a disruption in the continuity of space. So, when two non-architectural objects contribute to build the separation between one space and another space, inside and outside, even if these objects can’t be accounted as architecture, they still shape space (1978, 25). 

The production of space, according to Lefebvre (1991), is a dialectic process conceptualised in three dimensions: spatial practise (material production), representations of space (production of knowledge), representational space (production of symbols and signs). Each of these represents an experience mediated by the body, summarised in the triad perceived-conceived-lived (1991, 11-40). The dialectic aspect is a reminder that it is impossible to separate the production of space (and, consequently, the making of place) from time. As Dovey puts it, what distinguishes ‘place’ from ‘space’ is the connection between sociality and spatiality in everyday life (Dovey, 2010, 3). Place-making, then, is an affordance of the fourth dimension, where movement can come about.  

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3. The Sociability of the Bridge

3.1. Movement, Presence and Experience

How should we define digital movement? This is precisely the difference between ‘virtual’ and ‘digital’ notions. Or Ettlinger (2007) calls “virtual space” the space that we perceive from images, or visual cues, which can be seen, but not touched. One of the underlying premises is that we cannot interact with it in a way that affords us to perceive a wholesome spatial notion, due to the nature of the sort of media mediating the viewer’s perspective and experience of space. On the other hand, according to Virtual Space and Place Theory (VSP), because 3D environments (such as Second Life) have what they call ‘directionality’ — the possibility of movement —, users can experience notions of familiarity and the sense of true digital presence. In relation to SNS, we can think of the aspect of  ‘navigability’ of a website or platform. 

It’s important to point out that this type of analysis is possible because, as stated before, we can regard space for its psychosomatic aspects, beyond the built environment. In VSP, Saunders et al. (2011) develop a framework for the design of space in virtual worlds (VW), in a manner that makes room for the emergence of meaning-invested virtual places. Even though it builds up from Second Life — a 3D environment that literally mimics complex physical spaces —, it contains important insight into how we should analyse the construction of digital sociability through design, in a way that provides users with a sense of place and the experience of presence, analogous to intention in architectural practice.

The sense of place is defined in many ways in VSP, but all definitions are centred around four points, as follows: 

  1. Place is a “container” in space, with dynamic and fluid boundaries, that holds a mental representation of experiences that are derived from social interactions and interactions with objects; 
  2. There is no place without the meaning; 
  3. The view of place is tied to mental representations formed through repeated interactions; 
  4. The experience of place is linked to the concept of presence. 

I will add another dimension of place in digital settings, as pointed by Harrison and Dourish (1996) and supported by Anders (2004):

  1. The sense of place frames interactive behaviour, given that social behaviour is often subject to the architecture that houses it. 

In point 3, the affirmation that places emerge through repeated interactions emphasises the layer of experience, over time. It is from an idea of recurring social interactions and interactions with objects that they propose that users develop ‘familiarity’ and experience ‘presence’, perceptions that support the emergence of a sense of place. ‘Familiarity’ is grounded in the past and provides understanding and recognition of current actions of other people or of objects. It also encompasses the process of experiencing and learning how to use the interface. The concept of ‘presence’ is more complex, as it’s expanded into different perspectives and descriptions. 

Saunders et al. (2011) describe in VSP two types of social presence: presence as social richness (or social presence) and presence as immersion (or simply immersion), as described by Lombard and Ditton (1997). ‘Social presence’ is the perception that there is personal, sociable, and sensitive human contact in the medium, afforded by the social cues transmitted by the platform. ‘Immersion’ is the user’s compelling sense of being in a mediated space, and not where their physical body is located; it is presence as a result of the sensory cues transmitted by the platform, instead of the social ones. All senses are obviously involved when users make use of platforms, but only sight, hearing and touch are directly provided by the platform and its interface. I argue that an individual’s perception of immersion depends on their conditions of access, their patterns of use, and the platform’s structure of interaction and experience. On the platform’s end, it would revolve mostly around the structure of how (what, when, where, why) content is presented.

Still about the concept of presence, some points are worth noting; first, that the illusion of presence is unstable; relationships online are conceived at-a-distance, “stretched out too far for linearity” (Lash, 2001). Even so, instability doesn’t erase the fact that this presence is an embodied experience, not just for avatars in VW but also for profiles in social networking services (as we regard them as a form of ‘digital body’, where individuals write their identities into being (boyd (2007)) (Mennecke et al., 2009, 4; 7). These experiences described are possible because using platforms is an ongoing process of perception-cognition-practise; senses of familiarity, presence and place emerge from the ways through which users move through these interfaces and repeatedly recognise their spatiality.

It is a process of cognitive adaptation: users assimilate their experiences on the platforms and create a mental representation which helps them accommodate their old cognition into new experiences. At this point, we can describe experience in digital space as the practical aspects of media use: the interaction with objects — content, other users, tools and the platform itself — and navigability — the extent to which movement is possible across a range of motion —; it’s the result of how the structural clues and social markers on the platform work to afford navigation between its different parts. Through this process, users can attach meaning to the multitude of signs and signals being thrown their way, and something new emerges at the interface of the sense-maker and their environment (Lash, 2001). For example, for a digital community, their experience of place is where, over time, continuities and consistencies are given rise in the way that allows that group of people to perceive certain expressions as traditional, local, or community generated (Howard, 2008, 201), going as far as expressing, or representing, a sense of collective memory.

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3.2. The Bridge & Further Investigations

Considering all of these aspects, we can return to the definition of ‘cyberspace’ proposed by Ottis & Lorents (2011) — a “time-dependent set of interconnected information systems and the human users that interact with these systems.” Aware of the implications of the dimension of ‘place’, we can affirm that, in ‘cyberspace’, the ‘space’ is, in fact, the affordability of action in the distance between two nodes in a network. This ‘distance’ is grounded on the fact that these two nodes are real and exist as physical beings — individual human beings are irreducible to bits and remain localised in the physical realm (Cohen, 2007, 244). This is the ground on which all sorts of networks exist — the existence of the possibility of the establishment of connection between two or more parts.

In “Building, Dwelling, Thinking”, Heidegger (1971) proposes an analogy about the emergence of place across building and dwelling, known as “Heidegger’s Bridge” or “the bridge in Heidelberg”. The banks of the river only emerge as banks, or, as opposite sides, upon bridging (or linking) — “The bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the stream […] lets the stream run its course and at the same time grants their way to mortals so that they may come and go from shore to shore” (1971, 150). If we think about this analogy in relation to the ties in digital networks, we can appreciate the unfathomable complexity of the worlds brought about through the bridges that are built and burnt online on a daily basis, as multiple different worlds gather, shape the digital environment, and connect with way more people than they would probably ever do in their strictly physical lives.

This unthinkable complexity is, ultimately, what the internet was always meant to be. When William Gibson (2003) coined the term ‘cyberspace’ In “Neuromancer”, first published in 1984, he used these exact same words to describe the phenomenon:

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…” (p. 51)

And yet, how could we not try to fathom it? This is the foundation of my study: the belief that an architect’s best contribution is a sharp eye to acknowledge the Architecture of Serendipity. Borrowing from Heidegger, what I call ‘The Sociability of the Bridge’ is an analysis of how the actors and elements at play in establishing a digital environment afford the development of communities-at-a-distance. I believe the Heideggerian analogy is valuable, especially because of the idea of gathering through Heidegger’s Fourfold. However, it is unclear whether all the unfoldings of the Fourfold are the best fit for future investigations. For reference, a similar study by Neill (2018), which examined interaction on Tumblr according to the platform’s “singular architecture”, employed Social Construction of Technology and Actor-Network Theory as method and framework. 

Even so, so far, the bridge serves well as an anchor back to the material properties of the hierarchies and structures that seem to be invisible in digital environments — or else, made increasingly invisible. By looking into rather abstract phenomena such as the construction of memory, and a collective sense of shared space, all the actors at play in and through the platform and the community, have got to be considered. This is particularly relevant for fan communities, as the corporate interests are also actively working in nurturing fan loyalty. In this sense, I believe there’s value in considering the effect of cognising virtual spaces through moving images in the construction of community identity. 

An illustration of the Bridge and its gathering properties, as presented by me at BTS: A Global Interdisciplinary Conference Project at Kingston University, London, 4-5 Jan 2020

To put all of these aspects being mentioned in order: 

I first consider the platform/website’s singular architecture, or the structures behind how information is presented and circulated. Second, the construction of identity and their collective imagination in communities of shared interest, emphasising the effect of moving images in shaping their cognition. Lastly, I consider the construction of memory and the emergence of lore and traditions perceived to be community-generated in digital communities, from a shared sense of collective experience. I believe that, with these points, we can reach a qualified analysis of the ways through which perceptual and cognitive space can be perceived and cognised in the bridge, as well as an examination of the bridge itself, and its material properties. 

To conclude, I’d like to touch on how I approach the Sociability of the Bridge as a technological form of social life, as described by Scott Lash (2001). There are several aspects to be considered, but I want to focus on the idea of stretched-out non-linearity, aforementioned in relation to the idea of presence; these are relationships that are navigated at-a-distance by man-machine interfaces, where presence and experience tend to the realm of illusion, and bonds tear apart with ease (2001). Citing Bruno Latour, he calls the links in a network “so thin that they occupy almost no breadth at all. They are ‘topological’ rather than ‘topographical’. They are connected not by the social bond per se, but by socio-technical ties.” (2001). 

The relevant argument at play here is the understanding that, ultimately, the object being considered isn’t the community in itself, but the gathering, exactly where it gathers, and the tension between their own bonds and the weak link which holds them together — which, all in all, is simply communications. I opened this piece mentioning Elon Musk’s Twitter bid, during which he expressed a desire to impose user identity authentication. This would pose a risk to the viability of fan communities on the website — fan accounts are often one of multiple held by fans, who often choose to keep their real identities anonymous. However I feel about whether this will come to fruition or not, it surely exposes, and serves as a warning, of the fragility of the local element in these communities. 

A science fiction writer coined the useful term “cyberspace” in 1982. But the territory in question, the electronic frontier, is about a hundred and thirty years old. Cyberspace is the “place” where a telephone conversation appears to occur. Not inside your actual phone, the plastic device on your desk. Not inside the other person’s phone, in some other city. *The place between* the phones. The indefinite place *out there,* where the two of you, two human beings, actually meet and communicate.

Sterling, Bruce. 1994. The Hacker Crackdown.

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References

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