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The Cyberspace represents a new domain in terms of technology and sociability. During the fundational phase of its development, most scholars were talking about the Myth of Cyberspace, an issue we will discuss in a further article. The ideas surrounded this cybermythology were based on socio- psychological dynamics that the scientists of cyberpolitics must know. In this article we are briefly analysing some of them, organized in a diagram divided by two pairs of opposite forces: Knowledge vs. Emotions and Utopia vs. Dystopia.


 

Knowledge (K) : it is obvious that cyberspace as a technological innovation requires a minimum level of knowledge by its users. The richness and variety of their experience on cyberworld depends directly from their level of knowledge, constituted by their technical education, technological devices used and their personal attittude towards technology.

 

Emotions (E) : cyberspace as a social experience means also dealing with human emotions. People goes online for joy, to share their feelings, to communicate and we can certainly assume that there is no activity in cyberspace without al least a minimum emotion envolved. I.e. the happy feeling of knowing that online "we could find everything" was and still is one of the most attractive cybermyths.

 

Utopian vision (UV): technology has a positive impact on society and individuals, enhancing communication, the spread of information, the management of big data to solve glocal problems and to "put the human race forward".

 

Dystopian Vision (DV): technology is an instrument to increase the inequalities of the system, allowing governments, criminals and corporations to control sensible information and online interaction to impose their interests.

 

K&E (Knowledge and Emotions) are essential parameters to understand the individual internal attittude towards technology: how I perceive technology is affecting my life.

The first time we faced a computer's screen, we felt our knowledge was not enough to understand everything, but we were too excited to stop. From that initial very instictive moment, we all developed our personal opinion about the web. But it was always related with these two parameters: knowledge and emotions. And the main challenge for cyber social sciences is to learn how to deal with these two criteria in the cyberspace. By the way, today computer scientists are developed the last frontier in technological sciences: UX or User Experience, a multidisciplinary sciences combining psychology, anthropology, sociology, engineering, economics and others sciences, in order to delucidate how technology has to be conceived in order to cause certain prefixed effects on users. UX and the webdesign's principle of Usability are devoted to make users to enjoy an intuitive experience without feeling the need of previous knowledge in order to proceed. At the same time but in an opposite direction, Psychology is devoted to understand emotions and online interactions as objective data to be analized, measured and can predict further actions. So, a complete analysis of these two parameters help us to sustitute knowledge with intuitive (emotional) actions and to transform emotions into objective analitical data (knowledge).

 

U&D (Utopian and Dystopian Visions) are parameters to understand the individual external attittude towards technology: how I perceive technology is affecting my life and society.

By combining these two pairs we obtain 4 different visions about the role of technology in society:

 

Knowledge + Utopian Vision: new technological revolution is a liberation of human race in terms of information, education, access to products and services not only to produce innovations and new discoveries but also to ease our everyday life, generating processes of democratization and delocalization of K.

 

Emotion + Utopian Vision: new technologies imply not only better entertainment (music, movies, tv series, ebooks, websites) but also innovative channels of communication (social networking sites, chat services, video calls) whose direct effect on human relationships is extremely positive. The new platforms of communications allow people to express their feelings, share their worries, support people in suffer, take conscience of global and local struggles, joy with nice videos of wild animals or exotic adventures, going beyond political, social and cultural differences to achieve for the first time a common sense of shared humanity.

 

Knowledge + Distopian Vision: cyberspace is not only a kind of digital jungle where everyone could be under attack at any time, but it also represents the most advanced structure in terms of social surveillance and dominance, enforcing inequal social structures in the real world. Those who control cyberspace tend to monopolize digital knowledge, increasing the gap between them and normal users.

 

Emotion + Distopian Vision: average people prefers to live in ignorance, using internet just for fun without understanding that, in so doing, they are sharing their sensitive data and fueling many kinds of criminal and immoral behaviors. Technology tends to alienate people, creating a world of illusion, eroding real relationships, increasing stress and disappointment, imposing online behaviors, eliminating diversity, homogenizing and controlling opinions and behaviors, offering free services in order to obtain sensitive information. Remember, "If the product they offers you has no cost, you are the product.". If someone wants to know more or to use some devices or programs different from the accepted by the mass, this user is automatically stigmatized and subject of prosecution.

 

 

There are many interrelated dynamics among these visions, as these four following:

1. The individual verticality of knowledge vs. the massive horizontality of emotions: the increasing of knowledge tends to make the gap bigger between cyber-elite and normal users. In the opposite way, more emotions derives in less differences and more empathy among people sharing their feelings.

2. The dynamic of maximization of dystopian vision: the more individual fear about cyberspace risks implies the easier to accept the "protection" of the government through increased surveillance and structures of control.

3. The dynamic of maximization of utopian emotional vision for dystopian purposes: the more you share, the more fun you have, but, also, the more targeted and controlled you are.

 

 

4. The Status Quo of Knowledge estates that every user needs a minimum level of knowledge in order to use the cyberspace and to have control of the different technological devices. Cyberspace is the intellective domain par excellence: cyberpower is mostly related with knowledge, and it is conceived as the most valuable commodity in the digital scenario. And knowledge can be also related with the utopian or dystopian vision of cyberspace. Most of dystopians tend to be or too ignorants (too fear about the cyberspace) or too nerds (they believe the ignorant masses can be easily controlled and their rights violated).

5. The emotional factor is also related with the distinction between digital natives (youngsters) and digital immigrants (persons in their thirties or more, who still remember how -wonderful- life was before technology). The natives experience technology as a natural dimension of their own existence, experiencing the passion for learning how to use the new devices, mixing utopian emotions and knowledge. Young generations tend to be optimistic by nature. On the opposite side, the immigrants of the web conceive technology as something artificial and secondary to their real life. To learn how to use it represents for them a burden, a sacrifice. They are not so secure about their skills, increasing also the real dimension of the risks and reducing the importance of the benefits obtained from the use of technology. While for natives enjoyment and knowledge are simultaneous, for immigrants technology means first an imposition to learn to use it, for then, in a second moment, enjoy of its use. As a natural corollary of these feelings, a dystopian vision of cyberspace emerges.

 

We can also use this structure to understand better the role of two well known actors in Cyberspace: Anonymous and Facebook.

Anonymous is a loosely global network of atomized hackivists implementing cyberhacking measures, mostly DDoS, against governments, public institutions, corporations or any other actor in cyberspace accused by the community of the violation of global moral or/and legal prescriptions affecting rights.

Anonymous' phenomenon has all the ingredients to make it attractive: young hacktivists from all the world (global community) using their computers (David vs. Golliat's myth revisited) and knowledge in order to produce a damage to big structures in a distopian context of cyberspace. The paradox of Anonymous is its intention to achieve certain utopian aims in the real world (complete information, equity, free access, trasparency) by using dystopian means (cyberattacks).

 

Facebook offers to its users the social networking platform, strongly oriented to generates and satisfy emotional needs. Every user's posts (images, text, contacts, links, interaction) are the knowledge Facebook needs in order to target and generate more attractiveness.
For dystopians, Facebook represents a subliminal but very strong kind of domination: seductive with utopian emotions for all, implementing the best techniques in cyber socio-psychology (the colors, the interaction, the ad) to model and predict social interaction. People in Facebook shares emotions, creating a common sense of good will and mankind. The more emotionally integrated people are, the more envolved with the social network they become. In a certain way it works as a golden prison (the Cyberpanopticon), decorated with our life, visited by our friends, but isolated from the rest of the cyberspace, which tends to be more a more unexplored and dangerous for common internauts. In so doing, social networks increase the dystopian view of external cyberspace and increase the utopian feeling of their internal structure, a key dynamic to maximize fidelization.

 

 

Other articles:

 

FACEBOOK IN CYBERPOLITICS

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