Computer-Mediated Culture, Vol. 6 - 1999, No. 4
People are often ambivalent about the potential future roles of new technologies (and the Internet specifically) and their possible effects on human society. There has been a tendency for polarisation between attitudes or perceptions of naive enthusiasm and cynical resistance towards the use of computers and digital networks, and for such related concepts as "the information superhighway," "cyberspace" and "virtual communities." The projection of such ambivalent perceptions into naively utopian (or even ironically dystopian) images and narratives might be seen as the latest and uniquely global permutation of a basic function of human culture -- that is, to imagine "a better future" or represent "an ideal past." This paper considers the extent to which the kinds of virtual utopias made possible by computer-mediated communication are "connected" to the actual individual and social realities of human participants. In other words, should a distinction be made between the use of virtual utopias (and utopian representations in any culture) as merely escapist, self-indulgent fantasy on the one hand, and as a useful, transformative media for reinventing the human condition on the other?
"SvenskMud" (Swedish MUD) is an Internet-accessible Multi-User Domain (MUD) system but, in contrast to 99% of all Internet-accessible MUDs, SvenskMud is not a global community. Rather, SvenskMud is the first vernacular (i.e. non-English speaking) MUD in the world, and the only Swedish-speaking MUD in Sweden today. This article addresses four questions with regards to cultural attitudes and their relationship to computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies: (1) How have American cultural attitudes (historically) shaped the development and use of CMC technologies? (2) How do today's cultural attitudes shape the implementation and use of CMC technologies? (3) How do cultural attitudes manifest themselves in the implementation and use of MUDs? (4) How do cultural attitudes manifest themselves in the implementation and use of SvenskMud?
This paper analyses how participants on a Russian émigré Web site rhetorically construct a Russian communal ethos in cyberspace. This ethos emerges primarily through three activities: the creation of cultural and technical resources; the linking of other pages to the site; and the debate and dialogue on bulletin boards. Together these activities form a transnational rhetorical community on the Web that evokes deterritorialised notions of identity. Russian culture on the Web acquires a very global aspect, diversified by motifs and attitudes from a multiplicity of mobile participants. This new communal form is enabled by the robust nature of Web communication as well as the Web's transgression of national and cultural boundaries, permitting the incorporation of diverse people and diverse rhetorics in the forming, contestation, and negotiation of Russian cultural identity.
The practice of Internet usage is ambiguous as it gives rise to both unification and diversity. This paper analyses cultural specifics of the Internet. The analysis is a preliminary work for an application of socio-historical theory of human mental development. The parameters include techniques of hypertext browsing, the status/position/rank of communicators, the influence of the Internet on communication practices such as holding the floor and turntaking rules, the way emotions are expressed, and the way the English language serves the functions of a world-wide medium.
There exists an inherent conflict of values in Israeli society -- the primacy of national security, which subordinates almost every other aspect of democracy in Israel, versus the ideal of liberal democracy focusing on individual rights -- chief among these being freedom of expression. These conflicting values have been brought to the surface in recent years due to the rapid growth of Internet use by the general public in Israel. The incidents reviewed in this paper serve to underscore the tensions between national security and democracy in Israel, a tension that today is related more to deeply-seated political and cultural concepts of democracy than to any real threat to the country's existence. This paper discusses the political and cultural aspects of democracy and national security in Israel vis-a-vis computer-mediated communication (CMC).
This article uses several different instruments to survey students in Hawaii, representing both Asian and US origins. The results indicate that acceptance of technology correlates most directly with gender, father's education, and area of national/cultural origin, in contrast with measures of interest in media, acceptance of newness and new people, and concern about public issues. These results suggest that old conceptions concerning what drives the growth of technology are flawed, and that we must include attention to belief systems or mindscapes. Doing so leads us to adopt a cyclic epistemology, described by Maruyama and discussed as the dialectic by Hegel, as a better way of understanding how technology is appropriated in response to needs