Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects simply to a non-technical, business audience. Over…
Cyberspace refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, an electronic medium that is used to facilitate online communication. Cyberspace typically involves a large computer network made up of many worldwide computer subnetworks that employ TCP/IP protocol to aid in communication and data exchange activities.
Cyberspace’s core feature is an interactive and virtual environment for a broad range of participants.
In the common IT lexicon, any system that has a significant user base or even a well-designed interface can be thought to be “cyberspace.”
Cyberspace allows users to share information, interact, swap ideas, play games, engage in discussions or social forums, conduct business and create intuitive media, among many other activities.
The term cyberspace was initially introduced by William Gibson in his 1984 book, Neuromancer. Gibson criticized the term in later years, calling it “evocative and essentially meaningless.” Nevertheless, the term is still widely used to describe any facility or feature that is linked to the Internet. People use the term to describe all sorts of virtual interfaces that create digital realities.
In many key ways, cyberspace is what human societies make of it.
One way to talk about cyberspace is related to the use of the global Internet for diverse purposes, from commerce to entertainment. Wherever stakeholders set up virtual meeting spaces, we see the cyberspace existing. Wherever the Internet is used, you could say, that creates a cyberspace. The prolific use of both desktop computers and smartphones to access the Internet means that, in a practical (yet somewhat theoretical) sense, the cyberspace is growing.
Another prime example of cyberspace is the online gaming platforms advertised as massive online player ecosystems. These large communities, playing all together, create their own cyberspace worlds that exist only in the digital realm, and not in the physical world, sometimes nicknamed the “meatspace.”
To really consider what cyberspace means and what it is, consider what happens when thousands of people, who may have gathered together in physical rooms in the past to play a game, do it instead by each looking into a device from remote locations. As gaming operators dress up the interface to make it attractive and appealing, they are, in a sense, bringing interior design to the cyberspace.
In fact, gaming as an example, as well as streaming video, shows what our societies have largely chosen to do with the cyberspace as a whole. According to many IT specialists and experts, including F. Randall Farmer and Chip Morningstar, cyberspace has gained popularity as a medium for social interaction, rather than its technical execution and implementation. This sheds light on how societies have chosen to create cyberspace.
Theoretically, the same human societies could create other kinds of cyberspace—technical realms in which digital objects are created, dimensioned and evaluated in technical ways. For example, cyberspaces where language translation happens automatically in the blink of an eye or cyberspaces involving full-scale visual inputs that can be rendered on a 10-foot wall
In the end, it seems that the cyberspaces that we have created are pretty conformist and one-dimensional, relative to what could exist. In that sense, cyberspace is always evolving, and promises to be more diverse in the years to come.
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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…
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