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The End of Cyberspace

There are lots of examples of how the Internet hasn’t rendered the physical world irrelevant, but instead made it more accessible. For example, today I got a visa to go to Australia next week. Actually, I just got the visa a few minutes ago, while sitting in a chair in the bedroom.


via flickr

The Australian Electronic Travel Authority Web site lets you apply for a visa online. For anyone who remembers the whole process of standing in line at a consulate, this is a small miracle, almost up there with the revolution in international calling. It’s so much easier, it’s hard to describe.

Of course, like any good miracle, it consists of a couple parts. The first is being able to avoid lines: I did all this at home. Second, and probably more impressive, the visa no longer has to take physical expression in the form of a stamp in my passport: the visa resides in the Australian customs’ database, which presumably is present whenever you (legally) enter the country.

Technorati Tags: Australia, travel

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The End of Cyberspace

From Steve Talbott’s very stimulating essay «Where We Have Come To:»

During 1994-1995 I wrote a book suggesting that the emerging culture of the Internet was infected by a massive and potentially disastrous confusion between our full human capacities and the technical capabilities of the new digital machinery. It’s not that the technical capabilities had nothing to do with us. Quite the opposite. The point was that they lived first of all within us: we had to conceive the computer and be capable of thinking like a computer before we could build one. And that’s exactly where the danger lay. This thinking and the machine it spawned were extremely one-sided expressions of ourselves. If we continued investing our energies in such one-sidedness, allowing the rapid spread of digital machinery continually to reinforce our own imbalance, then (so I argued) we would eventually descend to the level of our machines without even realizing it. And we would mistake our own descent for a glorious ascent of the machine to a human and then a superhuman level.

The ultimate threat, I claimed in The Future Does Not Compute, was not the operation of the machine «out there» in the physical world, but rather the ongoing amplification and imperial aggrandizement of the machine within us. This is what makes the externalized technology so extremely dangerous.

Technorati Tags: cyberspace, digital culture, end of cyberspace, internet

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The End of Cyberspace

From a William Gibson blog post that links back here:

The thing that’s going to be quaint about «cyberspace» (that already is, really) is the inherent assumption that it’s a realm unto itself; that it’s in any way elsewhere or other.

Glancing sideways is becoming more generally recognized as about the best way of doing what we used to call futurism.

At the risk of making this too tightly interconnected a thread, I’ll note that Gibson’s well-known quote that «the future’s already here, it’s just unevenly distributed» (also sometimes rendered as «not evenly distributed» or «not uniformly distributed») is engraved n the memory of every futurist. Especially since we started using ethnographic techniques in our work, studying early adopters for clues as to how the rest of us would use currently-new technologies.

Technorati Tags: end of cyberspace, future