Imagining the Internet Predictions Project
 
More from Mark Poster

New and unrecognizable modes of community are in the process of formation, and it is difficult to discern exactly how these will contribute to or detract from postmodern politics. The image of the people in the streets, from the Bastille in 1789, to the Sorbonne in 1968 and Tiananmen Square, Beijing in 1989 may be the images that will not be repeated in the forms of upheaval of the 21st century and beyond. - 1994
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The concept of community is connected with assumptions of face-to- face interactions and leaves little room for electronic forms of conviviality. Internet associations will, I believe, claim more and more of our energy and commitment until the point when the refusal of the term community becomes silly. As you say, these commitments take away from other activities, though I suspect mostly from television watching. Nonetheless Internet associations are competitive with all forms of sociability. - 1994
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We can't let the term 'community' be limited to its earlier (humanist) meanings ... When human beings, with or without the significant mediation of machines, interact and exchange symbols, there is community of some sort. The problem is not whether MOOs and bulletin boards are communities, but how they are communities. And this is being studied ... A lot of interesting work will begin to appear in 1995. I don't think the 'alienation' of one-way media will evaporate but that a slow cultural transformation is in process, one that is very profound and which we need to comprehend if we are to participate in it in a political way. - 1994
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As I see it, we are already well on the way toward cyborg identity simply by our reliance on machines and our conjunction with them in so many instances in daily life. This of course effects different socio- economic and cultural groups differently, but a massive secular trend seems to be affecting the human race globally. The question then is not whether this is bad or good, because that way of posing the issue confronts us with nostalgia, in fact produces nostalgia rhetorically. The question is, once we face the trend, is how to understand its significance and how to respond to circumstances in optimal ways, in other ways, to think critically and act politically. But we are so far from recognizing these issues in our political institutions ... that even suggesting a political response risks drawing laughter. - 1994
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We are moving beyond the "humanist" phase of history into a new level of combination of human and machines, an extremely suggestive assemblage in which the futures of the cyborg and cyberspace open vast unexplored territories ... Perhaps the new modes of self- constitution encouraged in electronic forms of association will develop "postmoral" gestures and figures of well-being, in the sense of Nietzsche. - 1994
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We need to acknowledge the importance of machines flat out and include them in our generalized political positions ... I am not hopeful about this prospect, but it is still necessary to make the attempt. If no attempt is made, or if none is successful, then surely the Internet will be configured in the interests of the corporations and the nation state, though of course there are inherent resistances and intentional resistances under any circumstances. - 1994
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My view is that communications machines alter the conditions of culture so that 'modern' utilitarian culture is eroded and displaced. E- mail may substitute for the post office and the word processor for the typewriter (as the typewriter did for the pen) but only to some degree and in the end not at all (if this makes any sense). Electronic communication machines reconfigure space and time coordinates, restructure the relation of the body and mind to the practice (of writing), redesign relations of inside and outside through what I call the wrappings of language. In these ways the conditions of culture are shifted. To maintain a subject in a utilitarian mode within discursive practices structured by electronic communication devices becomes more and more difficult. Every statement of cultural criticism that bemoans the lack of morality, the decline of cognitive skills and so forth may be understood as a misrecognition of the effects of new cultural formations. - 1995
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What is at stake in e-mail (and all electronic writing) is precisely a reconfiguration of the matter/spirit, human/machine relation, a change that I see as having enormous consquence on the (re)construction of the subject and cultural change in general ... We have a new relation of human and machine, a new structure of decentralized interaction and a completely new space/time complex. Surely this apparatus emerges within capitalism and within a terrorist state system; surely it is not all equally distributed in the U.S., much less the world; surely it affords voice to some very nasty forms of sexism and racism - the detritus of the modern world. Yet in so many ways it upset the normative configuration of modern institutions, practices and cultures that it must be regarded as providing an opening, a space of transformation, without in any sense "guaranteeing" the arrival of utopia or even serious improvement upon the current order. - 1995
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What the Internet technology imposes is a dematerialization of communication, and in many of its aspects a transformation of the subject position of the individual who engages within it. The Internet resists the basic conditions for asking the question of the effects of technology. It installs a new regime of relations between humans and matter and between matter and nonmatter, reconfiguring the relation of technology to culture and thereby undermining the standpoint from within which, in the past, a discourse developed - one which appeared to be natural - about the effects of technology. - 1995
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The Internet seems to discourage the endowment of individuals with inflated status. The example of scholarly research illustrates the point. The formation of canons and authorities is seriously undermined by the electronic nature of texts. Texts become 'hypertexts,' which are reconstructed in the act of reading, rendering the reader an author and disrupting the stability of experts or 'authorities.' If scholarly authority is challenged and reformed by the location and dissemination of texts on the Internet, it is possible that political authorities will be subject to a similar fate. If the term democracy refers to the sovereignty of embodied individuals and the system of determining office-holders by them, a new term will be required to indicate a relation of leaders and followers that is mediated by cyberspace and constituted in relation to the mobile identities found therein. - 1995
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If modern society may be said to foster an individual who is rational, autonomous, centered and stable ... then perhaps a postmodern society is emerging which nurtures forms of identity different from, even opposite to those of modernity. And electronic communications technologies significantly enhance these postmodern possibilities. - 1995
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Nation states are at a loss when faced with a global communication network. Technology has taken a turn that defies the character of power of modern governments. - 1995
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Assuming the U.S. government and the corporations do not shape the Internet entirely in their own image and that places of cyberdemocracy remain and spread to larger and larger segments of the population, what will emerge as a postmodern politics? If these conditions are met, one possibility is that authority as we have known it will change drastically. - 1995

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