In continuation of my attempt to commit to memory long, complicated phrases and words in German by understanding shorter words in English, here is Round 2. So now if I could just find a suitable translation for “Virtualitätslagerung” (literally “Virtuality Storage Facility) and “Durchdringungsverhältnis” (literally “Penetration Relationship”…

Cyberspace is a (trans) cultural space. With the plethora of subcultures, our society is transforming from “culture for everyone” to “culture through everyone”. The technical structure of cyberspace is open and decentralized. Therefore, multiple perspectives can interact with each other, making the Web a multicultural transformation space. Through this external networking of cultures, we can work on a global scale to address problems common to all of us. Because we can interact and communicate with a variety of different viewpoints, our perceptions are being altered by those viewpoints. This leads to hybrid cultures, much like imported television programming influences a culture.

At the moment we find ourselves in a structural crisis. Our society is changing from the industrial age to the digital age, and the term “Virtualitätslagerung” describes the phenomenon that we are now organizing and designing two different social worlds, an online and an offline social life. In addition, we’re expanding our offline social life through the development of our online social life. On the level of socialization, the online world does not lead to isolation, despite the physical separation between communicators. These two worlds are both distinct and intertwined leading one to ask the philosophical question, “What is REAL?” Reality and virtuality are no longer clearly distinct. The relationship between body and technology is also changing.

“In short, we are all cyborgs” (Haraway 1995, 33).

In addition to our multiple social worlds and the blurred borders that those two worlds have, our perception of identity is transforming. We now have four identities:

  • the real virtual – your online persona, independent from your offline persona (anonymous users, screen names)
  • the real in virtual – your online personal that is related to your offline persona (none anonymous user, screen name that is your real name)
  • the virtual in real – the so-called spill over effect. When you socialize offline with people you met online, you are using your virtual real identity
  • the virtual real – identity theft! When someone steals your identity, they are acting as you in the real world, but they themselves are a virtual version (ie you).

From a theoretical perspective, the difference between the online and offline is blurred, at best. We are becoming much more polymorphic. Just think about how many identities you have online and offline, do you handle yourself differently with online friends compared with offline friends? Are your anonymous personas more brash, more honest, less honest? How do you make a distinction between the online you and the offline one? The WWW has allowed us to create multiple definitions of our self. It’s also led to multiple perspectives as the Internet is multicultural. The dynamic of new media has led to the understanding of the relativity of information as a common skill. Internet users are critical of the information they receive, leading to a more flexible usage of information (ie we’re no longer taking information at face value, we’re becoming more inquisitive).

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