Home | About Me | Writing | Photos | Research | Scratchpad | Projects

Research: The Internet as a s/p/p/s space

Mark Poster argues that "while there is no doubt that the Internet folds into existing social functions and extends them in new ways, translating the act of shopping, for example, into an electronic form, what are far more cogent as possible long term political effects of the Internet are the ways in which it institutes new social functions, ones that do not fit easily within those of characteristically modern organizations." [1]

Productive, social and political arrangements on the Internet tend to fail to fit into our ways of thinking: work is neither planned nor managed, nor viewed as "work" (in the sense of drugery) at all; relationships with other Hackers can be based purely on a common interest in a single technical problem, or on the kinds of frequent "meatworld" meetings we might normally associate with friendship; decision making processes seem to be neither democratic, technocratic nor meritocratic, yet they have aspects of all three.

So should we avoid thinking of the Internet, and in particular Hackers, as merely an extension of life spaces and practices that already exist? The argument, in other words, is not that the Internet, as a cyberspace, is the significant thing (a new space in which traditional practices can unfold freely), but that the Internet is a manifestation of different life practices that create the space (the Internet) in which they can unfold freely. The Internet as a life space has no special significance unless it evolves according to its founding life principles, i.e. the Hacker Ethic. So the study of the positive aspects of the Internet is in fact the study of the Hacker Ethic, equivalent to the psychologist studying behaviour to determine the nature of the mind.


[1] CyberDemocracy: Internet and the Public Sphere