CYBERCULTURE PIERRE LEVY PDF

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Several authors have devoted themselves to characterizing contemporary society. He completed his studies in France, receiving a Ph. He taught in several French and Canadian universities and is an important contemporary researcher in the field of new digital media, as well as an enthusiast about the cognitive and anthropological possibilities inherent in the Internet. These definitions of cyberspace and cyberculture are sufficient to introduce the theme, although insufficient for an adequate understanding of the complexity of this field.

Along with personal computers, digital networks were developed by groups of educated metropolitan young people; their ordered words and coherent aspirations represented strong cultural streams and promoted reciprocal communication and collective intelligence. It targets, through any kind of physical connection, a particular type of relationship among people. The advent of cyberspace places back in the hands of individuals the main tools of economic activity, which, in our age, are personal computers and digital networks.

Understanding the dynamics of cyberculture and the logic of cyberspace changes the way we notice concepts, and indeed, what those concepts represent for the future of humankind. There is no well-defined, actual distinction between man and technique, or between life and science; those distinctions are created for the purpose of analysis.

In using such concepts for precise purposes, we should not regard them as radically separated ideas. Throughout history, human beings created three great types of intellectual technologies to express their intelligence: orality, writing, and informatics. Understanding the evolution of intellectual technologies is fundamental to understanding cyberculture, because they unmake and remake cognitive ecologies 1 , from which we derive the cultural foundations that command our apprehension of the real.

In this study, the most relevant aspects of each intellectual technology will be presented. In those early societies, the word was used not only for everyday practical communication, but to manage social memory, its core function. For this reason, dramatization, personalization, and narrative artifices not only give pleasure to spectators, they are also the perennial conditions of a set of propositions in an oral culture.

The time of orality has a cyclic character; the passage of time presupposes a never-ending movement of re-starting. Inside a dimension of time and space, it is possible for orality to be restricted to the place and moment where it occurs.

In addition, once it has acquired a very specific dynamic, it demands a communication process capable of superficiality, so that communication can be effective among all individuals who take part in it. Without this, discourse can lose its meaning for someone who has not mastered the theme being discussed.

The creations of the alphabet, printing, and improvements in writing were essential for the establishment of science as a dominant mode of knowledge and world record-keeping. For this reason, when ambiguous, out of context messages begin to circulate, meaning assignment starts to occupy a central place in the process of communication. Interpretation starts to become very important. As the text can be isolated from its private conditions of creation and reception, writers seek to build discourses that are sufficient in themselves.

Individuals in written cultures therefore tend to think in categories, while people in oral cultures first capture situations. As we move from ideography to the alphabet and from calligraphy to printing, signs are placed in a sequential order on the page; this is why time also becomes more linear and historical, and history becomes an effect of writing.

Once the subject began to be taught and included in manuals in a specialized way, it was projected onto a table or tree, cut into fractions, and afterwards distributed in a book as part of a general plan.

Old manuscripts imitated oral communications questions and answers, pro and con discussions , and were organized around a comment from a great text or proposed selected fragments and compilations. Through writing, the relationship between communication in time and space is transformed. The message is no longer bound to a moment or a specific place, but to the duration and availability of support for writing, which tends to be perpetuated.

On the other hand, immediate possibilities for dialog become weaker as the time and space between writers and readers expands. Computers have a series of material devices and layers of software that re-cover and interface with each other. Those layers, which are innovations of informatics, derive from other fields, including electronics, telecommunications, laser and other sciences, mathematics, logics, cognitive psychology, and neurobiology.

It is important to emphasize that the invention of the personal computer came from outside, not just bypassing the great industrial manufacturers, but in opposition to them.

That unpredictable innovation transformed informatics into a mass medium for creation, communication, and simulation. There is no stable identity in informatics because computers are networks of interfaces open to new connections; these are unpredictable, and can radically transform their meaning and use.

We compose images, texts, and sounds with elements into which we incorporate our thoughts or senses. An image or sound can become a point of support for new intellectual technologies; once digitalized, it can be decomposed, recomposed, indexed, and ordered within multimedia hyper documents.

Such media can potentially be manipulated with the same facility that writing today can be edited. Along with these functions, a new hyper textual form of writing is now possible, one that will be closer to the setting for a spectacle than to the classic writing, in which the author is mainly worried about the coherence of a linear and static text.

The context of the new intellectual technologies will be similar to that of the great printers of the 16th century, who were at once literates, humanists, technicians, and explorers of a new mode of organizing knowledge. The quantity of digital data available is constantly growing; the more it grows, the faster we must work to structure it and map it.

In addition, the interfaces for finding and using data should be improved. However, dynamic writings hypertexts, multimedia compositions, and groupware could reintroduce certain forms of historical distance and hermeneutic work within the task of interconnecting in real time, which is intrinsic to informatics.

Memory, by being computerized, is objectified to such an extent that the truth is no longer a fundamental issue, in comparison with operability and the speed of locating information. In written civilization, books and theory remained at the horizon of knowledge, offering stability and uniform belief in the true theory or the right explanation.

Instead, knowledge is in a permanent and vertiginous metamorphosis; theories give ground to models that are not written on paper, but created on a computer and amplified across a network. It is plastic and dynamic, with a certain autonomy of action and reaction; it is knowledge produced by simulation. The manipulation of parameters and the simulation of all circumstances give the software user a kind of intuition about the cause and effect relationships in the model. In cognitive terms, one acquires knowledge by simulating a modeled system, which resembles neither theoretical knowledge, nor practical experience, nor the accumulation of an oral tradition.

Cognitive psychologists have hypothesized that everyday human reasoning has little connection to the application of rules in formal logic.

It is more plausible to argue that people build mental models of situations involving the objects they are reasoning about, and afterwards explore different possibilities using those imaginary constructions.

Thus, simulation through models can be considered a form of computer-aided imagination. At the same time, it is a much more powerful tool to aid reasoning than formal logic, which is based on the alphabet.

Simulation imagination, mental bricolage, attempts, and mistakes corresponds to the step in intellectual activity that precedes rational exposure through a theory, which is a more formal approach to presenting knowledge. From the dynamic understanding of intellectual technologies, it is possible to deepen the concept of cyberspace, which is a driving element of cyberculture, because it has been established in the context of informatics intellectual technologies.

This universe should be understood as an interactive, community communication device, which encompasses every advantage and resource of the informatics intellectual technologies previously discussed. In cyberspace, the computer is not a center, but a knot or component of the calculating universal network.

Thus, contemporary informatics is deconstructing the computer in favor of a transparent and navigable communication space, where every function is distributable and increasingly distributed. In this sense, cyberspace is becoming a privileged instrument of collective intelligence.

It accepts everyone, because it is content to connect any given point with any other, regardless of the meaning of the related entities. It is without totality, because an undetermined universe that tends to keep it indeterminate. Each new knot in the network of networks in constant expansion can become the producer of new and unpredictable information, and can thus itself reorganize a part of global connectivity. In addition to the idea of being universal without totality, another fundamental way of understanding cyberculture is to think of virtualization as a potential state of things.

Virtuality constitutes the distinctive trait of the new face of information provided through informatics and cyberspace digital technologies. It not only affects information and communication, but also bodies, the economy, sensitivity, and the exercise of intelligence through virtual communities, virtual companies, and virtual democracy. Although cyberspace as a technical infrastructure has an important role to play in that process, it is a phenomenon that far surpasses informatization.

Such an understanding presumes that everything is either real or virtual, because it is not possible to have both properties at once. Virtuality and actuality are two different modes of reality. The tree, for instance, is virtually present in the seed; therefore, the virtuality of that tree is very real without being actual.

When we use the word in a specific situation, we are performing an actualization, which is a process of resolving that situation; the word itself is not anywhere and is not connected to any particular moment. In other words, the entity starts to find its essential consistency in a problematic field.

Thus, virtualizing an entity involves discovering a general issue that it relates to, and making the entity mutate towards that question. The process of actualization moves from a problem to a solution, while virtualization moves from one given solution to another problem. Thus, virtualization is one of the main vectors of reality creation.

The invention of new speeds is the first degree of virtualization. Another characteristic of the virtual is the so called Moebius effect, through which the interior changes to the exterior and the exterior to the interior, for example, in the relationship between private and public, proper and common, map and territory, author and reader.

Clear borders give way to a fractalization of repartitions, with the passage to the problematics, displacement of being into the issue. It is something that questions classic identity and thought based on definitions, determinations, inclusions, and exclusions. This is why virtualization is always a process of welcoming change.

In this text, we have chosen to analyze thoroughly the first two examples, body and text, as these are more closely related to the complexities most likely to affect education.

Another concept is that we virtualize the body medically, using equipment of medical visualization that makes our organic interiority transparent, while grafts and prostheses mix one body with the bodies of other people and with artifacts. Our perception, for example, which helps to bring the world to wherever we are, has been externalized by systems of telecommunications.

The telephone for hearing, television for seeing, tele-manipulations for touching, and sensorimotor interactions are all devices that virtualize our senses. In considering the virtualization of text, it is important to analyze the characteristics of hypertext, which is the text that emerges from the symbiosis with informatics intellectual technologies and networks. As a structured text in a network, it represents a new art of editing and documentation.

In conventional writing, the initial text is already there and complete. By contrast, hypertext is a matrix of potential possible texts, some of which will be realized only during interactions with the user.

It becomes important, because its digitalization and new forms of presentation give us access to other ways of reading and understanding. Thus, if the computer is considered a tool for producing classical texts, it will be nothing more than a practical instrument. If we consider the group of all texts that the reader can automatically release using one computer and a digital network, we enter a new universe of creation and symbol reading. Hypertexts with digital support allow new kinds of collective readings and writings , embodying a change from an individual reading of a precise text to navigation in wide digital networks, where a great number of people annotate, increase, and connect texts with one another.

This new kind of text objectifies, operationalizes, and amplifies the power of the collective and the crossed identification of the reader and the author. In this context, every reading becomes an act of writing. We are in the era of writing digitalized, fluid, reconfigurable text, in a non-linear way; each participant is a potential author. Thus, far from annihilating the text, virtualization allows new forms of writing and reading. It is practically a newly invented form of writing that is just starting to present traits of orality.

As these are generally new situations, we often have no real understanding of the dimensions of their inherent implications. This paper therefore understands as complexity every new issue or dilemma that arises and is difficult to solve, especially because it is new and therefore harder to understand.

A great mistake that people often make when attempting to understand cyberculture is to imagine it as a movement created by a particular group of informatics technicians who created computers and social media.

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Cyberculture

Several authors have devoted themselves to characterizing contemporary society. He completed his studies in France, receiving a Ph. He taught in several French and Canadian universities and is an important contemporary researcher in the field of new digital media, as well as an enthusiast about the cognitive and anthropological possibilities inherent in the Internet. These definitions of cyberspace and cyberculture are sufficient to introduce the theme, although insufficient for an adequate understanding of the complexity of this field. Along with personal computers, digital networks were developed by groups of educated metropolitan young people; their ordered words and coherent aspirations represented strong cultural streams and promoted reciprocal communication and collective intelligence. It targets, through any kind of physical connection, a particular type of relationship among people.

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He introduced the collective intelligence concept in his book L'intelligence collective: Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace. In , he wrote the book Cyberculture. His principal work, published in French in and translated into English, is entitled Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace. He has contributed to many scholarly discourses about cyberculture. He was a member of the editorial board of the Revue virtuelle project of the Pompidou Center in Paris from to and was the author of a report on cyberculture for the Council of Europe in He claims that interactivity is a vague term that "has more to do with finding the solution to a problem, the need to develop new ways to observe, design, and evaluate methods of communication, than it does with identifying a simple, unique characteristic that can be assigned to a given system".

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