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The Internet in Universities: Liberation or Desensitisation?

The Internet in Universities: Liberation or Desensitisation?

John Pickering

Psychology Department

Warwick University

Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK.


Keywords:Internet, Education, Baudrillard, Harvey, Illich.


The compression of space and time that accompanies cultural evolution is being greatly accelerated by digital communications technology. The rapid transmission of information and computer mediated communication are key factors in economic and geopolitical development. Networks such as the Internet are now able to deal in images, sounds, texts and virtual objects. These can be stored, reproduced, combined and distributed. This digital miscegenation creates a virtual, recombinant culture that signifies how human society is evolving in the postmodern era.

In universities, the Internet is already an important medium of communication, a way of enhancing access to educational resources and a means for creating interactive communities of learning. This will not merely enhance educational practice as it now is. Like technological developments before them, they will also change our view of what education is, or needs to be. This in turn will influence the values and the sensitivities that are implicitly transmitted in the educational process.

Over and above its practical effects on education, the Internet is bound up in wider geopolitical movements and pressures. As a backdrop to considering the Internet as a medium for education, this article considers some of these geopolitical movements. The conclusion will be that the often rosy image created by advocates of digital communications technology may need balancing by consideration of some darker possibilities. As a matter of social geography, it enhances uniformity, urban concentration and the commodification of cultural practices, including education.

Two themes are considered here. On the one hand, following the more optimistic views of educationalists such as Illich and Wells, there is the hope that the Internet will act as a liberating, democratising force that will make knowledge more freely and widely available. On the other, following the more pessimistic concerns of geographers and cultural theorists such as Harvey and Baudrillard, there is the fear that the Internet will accelerate the loss of cultural diversity and will help to conceal damage that technology is inflicting on the cultural and on the natural environment. Examples of both themes are to be found in the current use of the Internet in university education.

The Internet and Culture.

The evolution of the Internet is well past its earliest phase and it is now a commonplace medium for communication and exchange within a globalised world community. The future extent of its influence is hard to estimate but most predictions are of massive intervention in all areas of life (Pearson & Cochrane, 1995). How rapidly this influence will grow is also difficult to estimate but here an analogy might be made with earlier communications technologies such as radio broadcasting. There, little more than two decades elapsed between the time when very few households possessed a radio and the time by which it had become a mundane, though extremely important, medium of mass communication. The Internet is likely to pass into the general cultural arena just as quickly if not quicker, though what role it will play is as yet unclear. Broadcast media, being passively received are thus more likely to be the source of general cultural distribution such as news and popular entertainment. However, unlike broadcast media, the Internet makes it easier to combine local and global systems and moreover, it permits individual and mass communication to be blended in a new and powerful way. This blending or convegence will be made easier as digital technology replaces analogue technology in broadcast media, as is presently happening.

The exponential growth of the Internet is an index of the accelerating geopolitical compression of the late twentieth century. This compression is not only of space but also of time. On screens around the globe a profusion of images from both the recent and distant past combine to depict a future that seems to arrive earlier than it used to. Vaclav Havel puts it:

"Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period ... a mixing and blending ..... when cultures distant in time and space are discovered or rediscovered. ...... New meaning is gradually born from the encounter, or the intersection, of many different elements. .... Today, this state of mind or of the human world is called postmodernism." (Havel, 1995)

Now the rhetoric of postmodernity can appear to be merely about cultural collapse, an undermining of conventional views and practices, predominantly in the arts and humanities. The critical program initiated by Derrida has brought into question the authority of writing and the transmission of ideas through texts and discourse (Derrida, 1978). This deconstructive critique is also applied to the material expression of our cultural condition. In architecture, for example, the efforts of Le Courbusier and Mies van der Rohe to build environments on rational principles are seen as an echo of Enlightenment authoritarianism. In the posthuman condition of the late twentieth century, such prescriptive humanism is no longer acceptable. Quotation and ironic juxtaposition rather than critical narrative and stylistic uniformity are more in keeping with the spirit of the times, and as for architecture, so for culture in general (Jencks, 1986).

For science, however, all this may seem irrelevant. Unlike literature or architecture, it is concerned with the world as it is, not with what culture makes of it. Nonetheless, philosophers of science such as Foucault and Habermas claim that the methods, contents and aims of science are all intrinsically bound up with cultural assumptions and values (Foucault, 1980 ; Habermas, 1978). Richard Rorty evens holds that philosophy and science now have to abandon foundationalism, the belief that human ideas are constrained by the existence of a pre-given, independent, 'real' world against which they may be matched (Rorty, 1980). However, rather than weakening science, this critique is taken in some places as constructive and as leading science towards a more open and pluralistic practice (Griffin, 1988 ; Jencks, 1992, ch. 6). For social sciences like psychology the postmodern turn is a welcome and necessary re-balancing of a discipline where the ethos and methods of natural science are an inappropriate model and now are hampering progress (Gergen, 1992).

Geoscience is perhaps an interesting intermediate case. While its methods are those of natural science, what is studied increasingly concerns cultural effects. As never before, human technocratic culture now influences the flows of energy and matter within the biosphere and the distribution of the resources for living that currently are so tragically different in different parts of the globe. Thus, if the postmodern condition of science promotes the recognition that things previously taken as natural kinds are actually culturally relative, then it has some relevance to the geosciences too.

In fact, one of the more important accounts of postmodernism comes from a geographer. In "The Condition of Postmodernity" David Harvey also presents the condition as a compression of space and time within the world of human culture (Harvey, 1990). Of course, the basic metric facts of the globe are not culturally relative. However, the ways human beings experience and represent them are. So too is the way this experience is bound up with the history of human geopolitical action. It is against this backdrop that Harvey presents postmodernity as an outcome of the dense and accelerating system that moves information about the globe. Starting from Marx's analysis of use and exchange as the historical value base of modern political economy, he traces how in the postmodern condition these have been overlaid by symbolic or sign value. With this overlay, the geopolitical dynamics of production, distribution and accumulation take on an entirely new character. This character is described by Baudrillard as an 'ecstasy of communication' where geopolitics shifts from material production and distribution of objects to the reproduction and the circulation of signs that simulate reality (Baudrillard, 1988). This circulation is intimately bound up with digital communications technology and the replacement of real political action by image manipulation (Baudrillard, 1993, ch. 5)

The economic and political significance of the Internet is shown by the efforts in the US to make an "information highway" a matter of national economic policy, much as if it were part of the interstate highway system (Clinton & Gore, 1993). The European Commission takes a similar view even though it recommends that the highway be built by commercial interests (Bangermann, 1994). Media corporations are of course happy to oblige, as the head of Microsoft corporation made clear in an interview in 1996:

"To me, cultural homogenisation is one of the most fascinating questions. The broadcast media absolutely homogenise culture, absolutely. Take the distribution of books, some sell extremely well and then there's quite a tail-off .... the Highway is the ultimate distribution system ... more niches will grow up, people who want to read Sanskrit or whatever. Or maybe it'll make things more centred. It comes back to something we don't understand about human interest. .... But it's not really my thing. I'm not willing to spend lots of time thinking about this. Just because we're involved in building the system does not mean we know how it will be used."

Bill Gates' apparent unconcern with the cultural effects of the digital communications is something to which we will return. For the present, we may note that the Internet is central to the postmodern geopolitical condition.

Now global communications technology fascinated educationalists like H G Wells. A collection of essays written during the 1930's entitled "World Brain", conveys his image of it as the nervous system of world culture (Wells, 1938). The growing store of human knowledge was to be accumulated in and distributed through a system of global communications. On an even more visionary plane, Teilhard de Chardin too, felt that the growth of communications networks was a quasi organic process and that it participated in the evolution of human consciousness:

"What system of chromosomes would be as capable as our immense social inheritance, produced by the synthetic recording of human experience, of indefinitely storing and preserving the huge array of systematised knowledge which, steadily accumulating, represents the patrimony of mankind? What has really let loose the Machine in the world, and for good, is that it both facilitates and indefinitely multiplies our activities. It fulfils the dream of all living creatures by satisfying our instinctive craving for the maximum of consciousness." (Teilhard de Chardin, 1973)

Although this celebration was written following the second world war, by then many historians were naturally inclined to a bleaker view of what technology meant for human culture. Lewis Mumford is an illustrative case. His remarkable "Technics and Civilisation", written in 1934, traced the geopolitical changes brought about by the rise of machines. He concludes with the hopeful prediction that the maturation of world culture would lead to a humane reduction in the use of technology: " .... as social life becomes more mature, the social unemployment of machines will be come as marked as the present technological unemployment of men" (Mumford, 1968). The effects of contemporary technocratic culture on human experience show how far of the mark this prediction was. Indeed, in one of his last books Mumford had had to abandon this hope. Instead, echoing Eisenhower a decade earlier, he warned about the oppressive abuse of technology by the military-industrial complex (Mumford, 1970).

Now the Internet was designed precisely because of the needs of the military-industrial complex to have a communications system capable of surviving all out nuclear war. Thus, from its inception, questions have been raised about its control, the interests it serves and how society will use it. Clearly, much of what is happening is far from the humanised and responsible use of technology for which Mumford originally hoped. However, claims are still made that the Internet will be a means to broaden and democratise the circulation of knowledge.

Indeed, even when the Internet was in its earliest stages, radical educationalists such as Ivan Illich were searching for something very like it as a means to reform education. In "Deschooling Society" Illich sought to expose and cure the agenda of conformity and consumerism that he felt was smuggled in with compulsory education:

"I intend to show that the inverse of school is possible: that we can depend on self motivated learning instead of employing teachers to bribe or compel the student to find the time or the will to learn; that we can provide the learner with new links to the world instead of funnelling all educational programs through the teacher. .... 'Network' is often used, unfortunately, to designate the channels reserved to materials selected by others for indoctrination, instruction or entertainment. But it can also be used for the telephone or the postal service, which are primarily accessible to individuals who want to send messages to each other. I wish we had another word to designate such reticular structures for mutual access, a word less evocative of entrapment, less degraded by current usage and more suggestive of the fact that any such arrangement includes legal organisation and technical aspects. Not having found a term, I will try to redeem the one which is available, using it as a synonym of 'educational web'."

(Illich, 1970, Chapter 7).

So, will the Internet be the liberating 'educational web' that Illich sought or the abuse of technocratic power that Mumford feared? It is too early to answer this question, since only a tiny proportion of the population use it. But it is not too early to raise it, and since it is growing so rapidly and since universities are among its major users, the effects it is having there may anticipate the role it will play in the wider cultural sphere. Something like the liberation that Illich envisaged may indeed be taking place. However, at the same time, and possibly in the longer term, there are also signs of the alienation about which Mumford was concerned.

David Harvey considers similar matters in the closing sections of his book where he explores the ethical and aesthetic consequences of postmodernity. In doing so, he refers to an analysis of the cultural effects of technology by Walter Benjamin. Benjamin concluded that the effects of mechanical reproduction would be to detach works of art from the traditions which provided their emotional significance and cultural role (Benjamin, 1968). This, he foresaw, would lead both a desensitisation but also to a democratisation of aesthetics. Harvey is concerned that desensitisation rather than democratisation is characteristic of the postmodern cultural condition. Images of destruction and suffering that formerly might have provoked action now do not. Baudrillard suggests this is because reality is blending what can be simulated. In the process, reality itself no longer elicits the responses it formerly would have done (Baudrillard, 1993, ch. 5).

Two themes emerge here. One, echoing the hopeful visions of Wells, de Chardin and Illich, is that the Internet will liberate knowledge and thus democratise education. The other, following the misgivings of Mumford, Benjamin and Harvey, is that the Internet is alienating and may help to conceal the damaging geopolitical effects of technocracy. We can now look at how the Internet is used in universities to see if either of these themes can be found.

The Internet and University Education.

Education reflects the culture that surrounds it. As its etymology reveals, it is a leading out, an introduction to the cultural tools that equip us to lead our lives together. Formal education is continuous with that more subtle education that occurs incidentally in parallel with other cultural practices. Thus, as the Internet becomes part of everyday life, education will need to assimilate and use this new cultural force. The effects of the Internet along with video, broadcast TV and multimedia in general, what has been called "screen culture", are felt long before students arrive at university.

Although screen culture is decades old now, many university teachers will have noted a change in the past few years. Ten years or so ago, many students, perhaps the majority, had little basic computer experience and also tended to be computer phobic. Now, most have experience and many have Internet skills. This change tracks the rapid cultural spread of the Internet. Computing and networking skills are rapidly moving to earlier and earlier stages of the educational agenda as it becomes clear that they are a gateway into a very large space of resources and opportunities. This is sometimes represented as not only the acquisition of useful commercial or academic skills but also as a basic responsibility of those who live in a technologised culture. As enthusiasts claim: " .... computer-infused communications technologies and the digital media that ride atop them hold tremendous potential to enrich our collective cultural, political and social lives and to enhance democratic values in our society." (Kapor & Weitzner, 1993). Thus getting the skills required to participate in screen culture is moving from being an educational option towards being a civic duty.

This will have interesting consequences in universities where many teachers are wary of the Internet and do not have enough time to become as competent with it as they might wish. Students are now arriving at university used to the Internet and to fast-paced and richly illustrated educational TV programs on quite advanced topics. Lecturers who prefer ink on paper to screens as a medium for text and who like to have their audience actually in front of them may soon begin to seem passé. As the bandwidth of the Internet increases, there will be other lecturers available, whose style and packaging, having been adapted for distribution on the Internet, will be more attractive to those reared in screen culture. It may, of course, go the other way. Students tired of screen culture may relish real-time, demanding lectures which allow interaction with the lecturer. However it may be and whatever university teachers do about the Internet, they cannot ignore it.

More positively, the Internet may help to bring about the change for which Illich hoped: education based on more participatory and less authoritarian practices. If the Internet becomes as accessible and natural as its advocates predict, then the emergence of informal, subject oriented groups of learner/teachers can be expected. This is part of what many see as one of the fundamental benefits of the Internet: radically bottom-up modes of cultural production, whether in politics, economics or education. The post-Fordist dispersal of production will be mirrored by the dispersal of postmodern education. Those who educate will not be so exclusively teachers, but fellow browsers in the cybernetic library.

Being distributed, the Internet allows access to significant educational resources to be more radically decoupled from where students live than ever before. Distance learning programmes are bound to use the Internet and in doing so, may change the geographical sense of "being at university". Many people who don't continue or resume their education because of having to go to university might act differently if university came to them. Moreover, distance learning programs have in general been regarded as of poorer quality than more conventional residential programmes. If both types use the Internet, this unwelcome distinction may disappear. The Internet is beginning to be used to provide distance educational resources that are user friendly, co-operative and affordable. In the UK, the Open University is developing many innovative programmes around it and is also the source of an influential model of how technology fits into the educational process in general (Laurillard, 1993).

This is where the Internet appears to answer Illich's plea of twenty five years ago. His suggestion that the appropriate place to learn is a library rather than a class room is beginning to come true. He did not literally mean a library in the conventional sense, but, much as H G Wells proposed, a collective cultural resource in which users were free to browse, use and appropriate what they needed or what took their fancy. This seems to have an echo in recent surveys showing that radically new education practices spontaneously arise from the unique properties of the Internet (Riel, 1993; Lemke, 1993).

There is also the possibility that the Internet will address Illich's concern with authoritarianism and conformity by helping to move postmodern educational practice beyond the curriculum to the catalogue. The catalogue offers everything that a curriculum does, but without the authoritarian overtones of sequence, value and assessment. 'Catalogue' here is not merely the commodity brochure, but a structured list of educational resources within which learners can browse rather than follow a prescribed course. Such self-paced and self-directed learning packages are appearing from many directions, such as CDROM additions to conventional books and as distance learning courses on the Internet. Presently they still bear the trace of conventional paper text, but this is changing as more materials appear in the form of densely interconnected hypertexts with minimal sequence guides. Such materials are inherently less prescriptive than conventional methods. Alternative and accessory texts are provided as are audio-visual images, demonstrations and ways to contact teachers and other learners.

Such materials can change educational practice. What is used and the way it is used is structured by both the learner and the teacher. Indeed these roles may change. Teachers change from instructor to guides while learners change from pupils to scouts. What learners acquire is less under the control of the teacher. There is still a curriculum, but the teacher does not expect to find it exactly reproduced in what the learner offers by way of demonstrating that they have learned something.

Under the impact of screen culture, university education is gradually being transformed. The skills of electronic scholarship that students are bringing with them mean that work is increasingly prepared electronically and may also arrive in electronic form. Written work now has the benefit of such automated writing tools as spelling checkers, syntax checkers, automated footnoting systems, list sorting and so on. This means that the quality of presentation can be a marked improvement on non-electronically prepared materials. This applies to content too. Automated searches of the literature can mean that lecturers find students using references unknown to them. In a culture of teaching where lecturers are supposed to know it all, this can be threatening. In a culture of learning more like that which Illich proposed, this is just what needs to happen. Learning and keeping courses up to date becomes a more collective and less authoritarian enterprise. In the process, teachers will have to relinquish some of the control they presently have over the curriculum.

As sources, critical comments, opinions, discussions all appear on the Internet, so students will have alternatives to what is on offer at their home establishment. The knowbots and intelligent search engines that are now appearing make it possible to find materials on given topics quite efficiently. The rapid increase in the sophistication and the usefulness of the search engines that now routinely come with net browsers has been remarkable. Within a few years these will have improved yet further and will be in common use in secondary education. Then, when students get to university they will be a powerful means by which educational resources and work are located, edited and shared. This is close to the collective and learner-directed style of education that Illich sought.

Such collectivity will have consequences elsewhere in the educational system. For example, recombinant screen culture weakens traditional means by which students demonstrate that they have learned something. Already there is difficulty in deciding whether an essay is 'really' a critical and original effort by a single person. What if it is in fact a cut and paste compilation from networked resources, document readers and fellow students that has been assembled, ordered and corrected by intelligent agencies other than that of the student? Is this plagiarism or competence in screen culture scholarship? If students combine their own writing with other sources, images, sounds and annotated links into a hypertextual web, the essay becomes the composition and assessment becomes a judgement of the talents of the composer. Instead of the critical narrative, we have the contrastive linking and ironic juxtaposition of sources characteristic of postmodern sensibilities (Landow, 1994).

The culture of the text that has dominated university education for centuries is bound to change as the Internet joins the commonplace communication media of postmodern culture. Texts will become mobile and fragmented. This is a complement to the impact the Internet is having on legal issues to do with rights of ownership, access and reproduction (Lury, 1993). This is Illich's point: teaching is about authority, learning is about autonomy. Schools, and universities impose teaching and destroy learning. In a culture of teaching, the urge to know and to understand, the birthright of all human beings, is downgraded into the defensive acquisition of authoritarian texts, driven by a fear of the consequences of ignorance. In a culture of learning, it is expressed through collective exploratory play in the world library.

There is clear common ground here with the postmodern challenge to textual authority. Derrida points out that many voices are present in a single text, both those of the author, those of the reader and those unconsciously informing the production and reception of the text (Derrida, 1978). Foucault too reminds us that texts are fragmentary and protean: "A text is an object-event that copies itself, fragments itself, repeats itself, simulates itself, doubles itself and finally disappears ...." (Foucault, 1965). This deconstructive analysis of textual culture matches what is happening to textuality as transformed by the Internet and other hypertextual tools of postmodern education. While the texts are linear and prescriptive, hypertexts are web-like and participatory (Pickering, 1994). Under the impact of the Internet, the very nature of narrative, of critical investigation and of educational practice is set to change fundamentally (Landow, 1992).

These changes will not be sudden or dramatic, but in the longer term they will be fundamental. McLuhan pointed out just how media technology is not neutral: "When technology extends our senses a new translation of culture occurs as swiftly as the new technology is interiorised." (McLuhan, 1962). The interiorisation of the Internet is proceeding rapidly, especially as it descends the educational age range. In what ways, we may then ask, might there be a consequent translation of culture? In addressing this question, the last section returns to the themes of liberation and desensitisation.

The Internet and the Future.

Celebrations of the Internet as part of the global electronic commons and as a means to liberate education have to be treated with caution. The vast majority of users are wealthier members of first world cultures and it is there that the necessary technological infrastructure is most highly developed. As something that originates from and which promotes technocratic culture, the Internet seems more likely to increase the gap between the haves and the have nots, both within and across cultures.

Nonetheless, rosy visions of what the Internet offers a waiting world are common: "Imagine these benefits translated to countries where libraries are scarce, books are rare and where researchers and scientists are disconnected from the work of their peers." (Glister, 1993, chapter 16). But a country where libraries are scarce and books are rare needs books and libraries, not the Internet. Book technology is appropriate technology and cannot be bettered for many purposes (Pickering, 1996, a). Basic educational needs are far better met by conventional educational resources than by relatively expensive and inaccessible Internet nodes. While the Internet is clearly having a major impact on the world community of 'researchers and scientists', there will have to be an enormous jump in its accessibility and affordability if it is to have any direct bearing on education in the more universal sense set out in the UN charterof human rights.

However, at more advanced educational levels, the case is different. In Central Europe, for example, the political and economic situation of the past decade has meant that books and equipment from Western Europe and from North America were expensive and information about them was hard to obtain. As access becomes cheaper and since there is a large reservoir of advanced computer skills in universities and in commerce, there is growing use of the Internet to provide texts, software, databases, computer teaching packages and other resources.

The cost of these benefits is cultural colonialism. Software is highly coercive, as any user of Microsoft products knows. Bill Gates' unconcern about the cultural effects of networks is perhaps disingenuous. It is not only information that the Internet brings but also indoctrination. The obvious variety is the advertising and the logos, the less obvious is the psychological dependency created by software. The Internet may be beginning to act as something like a global nervous system, but in the process it will lead to cultural homogenisation and economic dependency. This should extend the concerns of environmentalists from the biological to the cultural sphere. The Internet is bound to accelerate the already rapid loss of cultural diversity.

This points to the other theme of alienation. The Internet promotes virtualisation, the condition of taking what appears on screens to be reality rather then to stand for it. Screen culture has serious political consequences, as Baudrillard points out. Simulacra replace and thereby conceal the reality for which they stand. Walter Benjamin's prophetic essay ended with a warning about what would happen if society proved unable to contain the forces set loose by technology (Benjamin, 1968). The consequences were not only the more obvious ones to do with geopolitical aggression and the creation of an underclass, they were also to do with the aestheticising of suffering and war.

Exactly this has happened, as Baudrillard points out, using the example of the Gulf war. The actual events were effectively hidden by the most tightly controlled media campaign of modern times. Instead the tragedy was presented as a videogame. At the same time, videogames began to incorporate video sequences of real warfare in much the same way as newsreel footage is used in films. These videogames are played with by the designers of the weapons systems of the future. So the circulation of signs accelerates and tightens. In the built environment too, the giganticism of post-Fordist production and distribution is mirrored in the global spread of commodified styles of architecture and urban habitation (Pickering, 1996,b ; Graham & Marvin, 1996)

The Internet is a highly significant economic and political development. In industrialised states a virtualisation of politics has occurred as various departments of the legislature have rushed to create webpages in order to give the appearance of open government. Controllers of media corporations like Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch are totally committed to exploitation of the Internet. They talk of it as the ultimate production, reproduction and distribution system. Benjamin and Mumford hoped that technology would liberate society from the control of an elite. But, as the turn of the century arrives, and despite much hopeful talk of democratic empowerment, it seems much more likely that the Internet will be as tightly controlled as the means of production and distribution were controlled at the turn of the last century by an elite of technocrats. The elite are now the cognitariat who control the means of reproduction and circulation. What circulates are images that condition cultural sensitivities. The political and economic significance of the Internet concerns access to the images through which participants in screen culture increasingly interpret and experience reality.

There is time to become aware of the effects of the Internet. In universities it may be a means by which the conventionalising and oppressive effects of screen culture can be recognised and resisted. It could just as likely be the opposite; the means by which universities participate in a powerful and subtle cultural movement from the real towards the virtual. Relatively passive manipulation of the world as represented by simulacra on screens is gradually replacing active engagement with the world as it actually is. For economic rather than educational reasons, screens are replacing books in libraries, mathematical models are replacing scientific experiments, the computer mining of databases is replacing the sociological survey and virtual reality tours are replacing the geoscience field trip. A cognitariat educated through such means will develop sensitivities and values reflecting this virtualisation.

Educationalists like Dewey , Wells and Whitehead all stressed that the foundations of knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, lie in practical engagement with the actual material being studied (Dewey, 1940; Wells, 1938; Whitehead, 1929). The tendency towards virtuality is moving education in the opposite direction. While it has great powers, it may also diminish the hold on reality of those who are educated. This is the desensitisation against which both Benjamin and Harvey warn. The rhetoric of the Internet is that of the new frontier, the arena of cybernetic culture in which we may become more aware of our global interconnectedness and mutual environmental responsibility. It is important to be alert to a very different possibility. In replacing reality with simulacra the Internet may help to conceal the geopolitical destructiveness of the technology that has produced it.


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