Before talking about cyberculture we have to ask the question: What is emergent culture? According to cultural historian Raymond Williams, emergent culture can be defined as the following: “the result of processes where new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships and kinds of relationships are continually being created.”
I would have to say these same concepts can easily be applicable to digital culture as well. There are many examples on the Internet of emergent culture, from playing online computer games to tweeting and blogging. It is the same process as defined by Raymond Williams, relationships are being made, and customs and values are being established. The only difference I can find between the two is that it is a process that goes on online and not face to face. This brings me to my next question: Can culture exist online? My answer is a certain and determined: Yes!
Of course we cannot forget about the two aspects of culture. The emergent that I just presented and the prevailing aspect that is the present day established culture. There is a connection between prevailing culture and emergent culture. Prevailing culture holds the key to power because it can decide what stays and what goes, or to what degree can a specific item be incorporated. In my opinion the above mentioned aspects help expose the relationship concept of the Digital native versus the Digital Immigrant. A good example for these is the fact that I myself am a digital native and I am constantly struggling with showing my digital immigrant parents how to use and how to adopt the continuously emergent culture of the digital world. Even if this relationship is progressing it still has a long way to go. Do to the use of the computer networks that is used for communication, business and entertainment a new culture has emerged or is still emerging that is called cyberculture or also known by its other name, computer culture. Cyberculture emerged, developed and rose to social and cultural prominence between the year 1960 and 1990. This is when this wide social and cultural movement made its first steps. The difference between cyberculture then and cyberculture now is that between 1960 and 1990 it was based on a small cultural sample and the ideals that came with it. The modern day cyberculture is linked to a much more diverse group of users and their ideals.
Cybercultures boundaries are hard and difficult to define because they can be used very flexibly. The culture of virtual communities is part of it, but there is a much wider range of cultural topics that is being covered by cyberculture like the cyborgization of the human society. This term often incorporates an implicit anticipation of the future. This Internet culture introduces us to the network communication that is: online communication, online multi-player games, social media, mobile applications and last but not least texting. All this can be achieved by the use of Facebook, Tumbler, Tweeter, Tinder and many other social sites that help people build relationships while not even leaving the comfort of their homes. It is not a face to face form of communication but rather IP address to IP addresses one. And even if it’s not the conventional form of meeting new people, it comes with a certain type of addiction; to what degree is one affected depends on that specific person. I came to the harsh realization of how Internet and Internet culture affects lives, when I heard the sentence: “If you don’t have Facebook you don’t exist.” And even if this sentence is wrong on so many levels I moderately agree with it, because I noticed that even the digital immigrant, older generation are using Facebook and slowly but consistently are trying to become more like the digital natives. So what is the internet to us and why does it affect our lives so much? Well a more creative definition of the internet would be: „The internet is one gigantic well-stocked fridge ready for raiding; for some strange reason, people go up there and just give stuff away.” Mega Zones, Macworld (1995). The reason why we give stuff away freely on the Internet is because we not only developed an only community but also an only culture along the way, where we started to finds a greater satisfaction in posting and texting than in real face to face situations and interaction. People tend to be more open minded, and more expressive when writhing on the Internet then when simply talking to another person face to face. The shyness and the fear of saying something wrong disappear, especially when your true identity is unknown.
In conclusion like culture in general cyberculture relies on establishing credibility and identity. However due to the absence of physical interaction determining such establishment is more difficult than in other cases. In some sense the credibility for cyberculture can be established in the same way as in the real, offline world. Still these two are different worlds and there are differences between their mechanisms. The factors that make it credible can be: anonymous versus know, moderated versus unmoderated, positive feedback versus mixed feedback , unrated commentary system versus rated commentary system and mostly physical identity versus Internet based identity-only. Still the question: Can I trust this? -will be always there.
Connecting minds, Emerging Cultures. Retrieved April 8, 2015 from: http://www.amazon.com/Connected-Minds-Emerging-Cultures-Cybercultures/dp/160752015X
Cyberculture. Retrieved April 7, 2015 from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberculture
Cyberculture in everyday life Retrieved April 8, 2015 from: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/8558/7/07_introduction.pdf
Film. The (R)evolution- Cultural creative. Retrieved April 7, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMqVzdRKOJE
Image Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3881668.ece
By Széplaki Zita