Utopia in Cyberspace

A reflection on utopian discourse around communications technology

The first half of the 1990s witnessed an outburst of speculation on the utopian potential of the newly established computer and telecommunications networks. The name “cyberspace”, which began to be applied to these networks at about the same time, may be related to this occurrence, on account of the spatial connotations it confers on the medium that came to be known as “Internet”.

Our aim in the present work is to investigate the emergence of this utopian discourse, comparing it, initially, to similar situations in the history of communication technologies. Spatiality is proposed as a specific feature of cyberspace, which is then confronted with utopian space. For this purpose we resort to utopian literature, as well as several theoretical approaches that may provide us with some useful concepts.

Lastly, the most representative instances of utopian speculation on cyberspace are analysed in light of their relation to literary utopias, with the suggestion of possible genealogical connections between both. We thus intend to provide an inclusive view of the spectrum of utopian discourse, radical and moderate, as well as the different conceptualizations of cyberspace inherent to it.

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