Monday, January 31, 2005

Production of Cyberspace

Smith's account of the development of social space and absolute space in terms of Marxist theory begs some intriguing questions about where the Internet fits into such an analysis. Assuming we can agree that the Internet is a form of space as Smith defines it, Internet populists might argue that the Web has thus far developed as primarily social space and at this point neither the market nor the state have managed to establish authority and dominate it. (Dear & Flusty refer to this phenomenon as "hyperspace.") Others would likely contend, however, that cyberspace has for all intents and purposes now been largely carved up among the competing commercial forces and thus has become absolute space as Smith defines this phenomenon of capitalism, especially in the wake of the .dot com market crash as counterhegemonic economic and cultural players dropped out of the picture. Which picture do you think is more accurate?


Amanda said...

I would say that while the Internet was developed in a very socialist manner, and while there are still distinctly social aspects to it, it cannot be considered to be a primarily social space at this point in time. The advent and increasing popularity of e-commerce and the development (or at least discussion) of laws governing spam and internet decency and copyright says to me that both the market and the state have a stake in the internet - it may not be as firm as in the "real world" due to the slippery nature of the web, but it remains a definite presence all the same.

Sara said...

It seems that Internet space is under constant shift from capitalistic forces and social forces - players come along to grab market share or a way of exerting control (like dotcom hype companies of 2000 or today's google) and for a while they may dominate but then another wave of influence will come from somewhere else unexpectedly. Seems almost parallel with human tendencies and fads - one could argue the Internet evolves as a unique beast reflecting an influential segment of society, which then in turn, influences the rest of us, cycling back and forth.

Linda said...

Between indentity thieves and e-police posing as young girls (and boys) to catch molesters who lure online, it seems that the Internet is still in it's Wild West stage.