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Cyberspace, virtualization, ubiquity

In a thought-provoking article, Batty [5, p. 1] stated that “by 2050, everything around us will be some form of computer,” referring in the end to the evidence that everything, and the city as well, may soon become computable. According to Batty [5, p. 3], the main point, which induces a very real revolution and leads to a novel kind of space and metric, relies on the convergence between those computers and telecommunications. Starting from this statement, a possible definition in complex terms of cyberspace should apply not only to the ways information, models, geographical displacement are stored in their digital format into an electronic domain but also, and especially, to the patterns in which they are transmitted along clusters of networked hard disks. Other scholars refer to cyberspace, invoking “any types of virtual space generated from a collection of electronic data that exist within the Internet” [6, p. 2]. Thus, a precise definition of cyberspace has to be given in connection with the discourse on remote exchanges of data in the network of the networks.
Information and communication technology (ICT) can be interpreted as the current system of thought and associated tools that make an individual able to manage information, meant as data structured into an informative framework. This system allows one to construct, gather, edit, and transfer information from a transmitter to a receiver device. A particular ICT has been the hallmark of every historical era. Thus, information and communication technology can be considered not only as the cultural product of a certain community, but also as a crucial factor in the behavior and thoughts of that society.
McLuhan [7] believes that an affinity can often be found between the content of the information and the medium used to transfer it from a transmitting to a receiving system. The sentence “the medium is the message” is the starting point of the McLuhan hypothesis and provides an instrument for the interpretation of the relationship between media and society. According to McLuhan, the medium can be considered as an extension of human possibilities, a tool for widening the field of action, either in material or in cultural terms. The innovative process of technological advance is principally responsible for the changes in the medium throughout the last millennium and, above all, in the last century.
McLuhan’s thoughts seem to be relevant, as they focus on the relationships between the medium and the cultural infrastructure of a society. Every time there is a change of the nature of the extent of the medium, it is associated with a disturbance in the categories of perceived reality and in the individual’s relationship with space.
In the contemporary era, telecommunications represents the current innovation. Definable as a medium in the McLuhanian sense, this instrument is believed to finally remove the obstacle of the physical distance. Telecommunications allows the contemporaneous transmission of information to a theoretically unlimited number of destinations. Thus the crucial cultural repercussions of telecommunications are that it eliminates space or, more simply, eliminates the category space in Euclidean terms. In this sense, the “message” embodied in telecommunications can be interpreted as the system of social, cultural, and productive opportunities stemming from the enlargement of the number of users and from its “real-time” aspect. The sensorial sphere of the individual widens and, theoretically, can become ubiquitous. Virtual reality technology is an example of the artificial extension of human capacities. Through this instrument an individual becomes able to perceive sensation, such as the sense of touch or smell, about realities located in remote places or, sometimes, in unreal environments.



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