Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Michael Benedikt – Cyberspace: First Steps – Introduction – summary

Cyberspace: First Steps
What Michael Benedikt is essentially postulating in his introduction to "Cyberspace: First Steps" is twofold argument regarding cyberspace: that cyberspace is the current manifestation of the collective human endeavor to organize and preserve information, and that is the highest degree of this effort.

Benedikt describes how, with the advent of computer technology and virtual reality, a new world has emerged which is indifferent to physical constraints, a world without a place which is in constant state of change. In a sense, for Benedikt, cyberspace does not exist if existence is taking as being in place and time.

Benedikt argues that a geographical mental space has always existed for human cultures as a form of collective memory, functioning as a realm of agreed upon truths, forms and symbols that do not submit to space and time. What is special about our era, the era of cyberspace, is that this mental space is slowly taking up actual form.

Benedikt adopts Karl Popper's distinction of three types of worlds. World 1 which is the physical world, world 2 of subjective consciousness and world 3 of objective consciousness which contains actual constructs of human consciousness. For Popper, everything man creates is a part of the abstract world 3, with cyberspace being for Benedikt the epitome of this world of manifested intellectuality. The new cyberspace does not replace the old constructs of world 3, it just redefines them.

Benedikt examines four "threads" that for him combine to create the new world 3 of cyberspace. The thread of mythical content, the material history of symbolic manners of representation, the history of architecture and the history of mathematics. He illustrates how these threads evolve through human history since its very begining to reach their epitome in the new abstract yet very concrete new world 3 of cyberspace.