Exploring Cyberspace Sociology

I recently watched a documentary called Life 2.0 and was fascinated by the notion of Second Life and the societal implications that virtual reality is having on people today. While I’m more interested in the implications this will have on humanity in the future, a current look at this evolving area is intriguing nonetheless.

Back in 1968, C. R. Licklider and Robert Taylor predicted that users of cyberspace would be happier than individuals in real life. They based this prediction on the idea that computer users can interact with other people based on interests and goals instead of random chance encounters. While modern Internet services weren’t even yet imagined, these words certainly sound like something that a social network user might say in present day.

Ray Oldenburg theorized that there were three essential places that each human being goes: the place that one lives, the place that one works in and the place one goes to enjoy conviviality. Some computer theorists have suggested that the third classification is quickly disappearing. People prefer to enjoy hospitality online.

However, one could argue that individuals who work from home have already merged the first two. All three places could easily be one for people who work and play online. In the near future, holographic chambers could allow people to enjoy chat rooms in entirely new ways. Computer conferencing has always allowed people to be free from their human disabilities and disadvantages. These chambers might very well allow people to redesign their bodies at will (much like many already do in Second Life today). Humanity could be headed for a major identity crisis.


The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier

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