Monday, April 7, 2008

Cognitive Logic and Relational Fascination

In James R. Beniger's Chapter 3, Who Shall Control Cyberspace, he explains three major characteristics of the internet and cyberspace which foster the adaptation of this new conceptual space into our everyday lives. Beniger says that cyberspace is physical, cognitive, and relational. The physical aspects of cyberspace are needed, but probably the least important in terms of the human adaptation of cyberspace, consisting of the actual computer, modem, keyboard, etc...that we use to access the internet. Cognitively, the internet offers users the availability to do their own research, and pay attention to the information that specifically effects their own personal lives. Also from the cognitive view of making the computer a personal medium of exchange, the evolution in the personalization of our own computers and their desktops is becoming an increasing factor of why we may choose brand loyalty to one computer brand over another. Personally, I think this is why Mac has been so successful in marketing their laptops, pushing Microsoft out of the business of computers and into television (see my previous blog Microsoft ...Television) Lastly, Beniger refers to the new conceptual space of the internet as being relational. This is obviously the most fascinating part of the new world of cyberspace, as it is probably the least understood yet fasting growing characteristic that Beniger names. We can understand the physical means used to access the internet, and we can logically understand why someone would want to use the internet for cognitive purposes (accessing more desired information at a faster pace), but is the relational part of the internet really needed? Cognitively we have almost solved the "problem" of not being able to access information fast enough, but from a relational point of view what has the internet provided us that we could not accomplish more efficiently face to face, or even on the telephone? I don't think anyone is really sure of this, which is why a large portion of the cyberspace community has become so intrigued by online social networks. Learning how to interact with people strictly using digital means is new, unchartered ground that has grabbed the attention of many people who use the internet on a regular basis. Is it possible that as our society evolves, the online social network evolution will have become so prevalent that upcoming generations will need to be able to interact digitally in order to meet the social needs of a modern society? I think this may be pushing the envelope, but it is interesting to note the current fascination of online social networks and the eventual direction that this fascination will lead us in.

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

I think you do put your finger on it, that it's the social element that's really significant, the ability to link people together in increasingly more isolated and fragmented real life situations, and also the ability to bring people together who would be otherwise dispersed, thereby empowering them, and allowing them to organize for action.