Re: [-empyre-] residing in cyberspace

Cheers, Barrie, on 6.1.05 12:45 PM, Christine Goldbeck at wrote:

> Are we building a new country, we bridge-dwellers? It's an interesting
> question to explore.
> Insofar as my studies and experience goes, I feel that through our place
> (physicial, even cultural) and space (social), most individuals bring their
> identities (their biases, etc ...) with them to cybercountry. Thus, a bigot
> in physical location (a downtown coffee shop, for instance) is a bigot in
> cybercountry.
> Yet, the anonymity that our cyberworld offers also provides for individuals
> to explore other identities, to become the other of which they dream but
> never "do" because of concerns of how they would appear in their real, that
> is physical, social and cultural, location.
> I am hoping that people, men and women, who are marginalized in their own
> culture, can use this cyberworld to explore those identities and dreams and
> I am hoping that new media storytellers and artists are able to show them
> the way through our work.
> As for home instincts, most of my art work and my studies relate
> specifically to physical, social and cultural place/space, which is why I
> make the aforementioned assertions.One of the most interesting things for me
> is watching people of my homeland (the hard coal region of Northeast
> Pennsylvania) realize that there is a world of similiarity -- INDEED THAT
> THERE IS A WORLD AT ALL -- beyond this place I call home.  I come from a
> long and apathetic line of coalcrackers who seem to pass apathy from
> generation to generation.

I was struck by your reference to the coalminers in Pennsylvania having
recently also read an essay by George Orwell, Down The Mine, which describes
the backbreaking, life destroying existence of miners in 1930's Britain. The
culture of mining, the mining family at that time, the mining lifestyle
being the reason to be for that culture with little thought being given to
the outside world and other possibilities for life away from blackened lungs
and twisted bodies. Orwell's story describes an awful existence, its
something I can't get out of my mind, its hard to believe that humans could
exist in this way, in a life destroying culture of near slavery.

And yet we see it today, in 'third world' countries, sweat shops etc.
Corporate culture crushing individual lives.

> Cybercountry seems to be instrumental in reducing
> this negative geographical trait.

Yes, but only if people are willing to take the steps necessary to to make
this happen, and some have, and sometimes its a crisis that motivates this
change, or the concerted effort of some individual or group in response to
some need. How does this work for the individuals or groups that do this?
Certainly it works to help the individuals in a culture explain, express,
tell the story of their lives and in this way acts to give them a voice that
they wouldn't otherwise have. Its a voice for others in their community and
for others who may care to drop in from around the world. How the outside
world interprets these stories depends on how well they're expressed, how
well the web site etc engages the viewer or user.

In a narrowly focussed community its sometimes difficult to see how it can
be possible to break out, stand back and view what you are doing from a
distance, to understand the dynamics of your particular culture, how it
compares to other cultures. I spent 7 years in a farming town, you did
things in a certain way, everyone knew what everyone else was doing. While I
was there I saw the decline of the local timber industry, resentment toward
greenies and their sympathisers etc, lots of despair and anger.
One of the things that stood out in that small town was the local theatre,
the plays that we put on. A lot of people from various social demographics
got involved, I can't remember a play that wasn't a success. A lot of the
success was due to good practitioners in the theatre world, semi-retired
professionals who lived in the area, writers, artists etc. A lot of the
success was because you were doing stuff together, sure the play was
interesting but being together with other people in the community and making
something with them was the real strawberry on the cake.

The first time I really got some idea about the nature of Maori culture was
when I saw the film Whale Rider and read Witi Ihimaera's book. I don't know
how this is seen in New Zealand by the Maori people or by the white
population. How racist tensions effect your views, I don't know what the
reaction was over there. I only know that it gave me an insight that I found
engrossing, hungry for more.

So film and books, DVDs and paperbacks are readily accessible cultural
materials, how do they compare to web sites? How successful are web sites
compared to other media?

Perhaps we have to wait for the web/electronic media to be more accessible,
- a cinematic broadband, more portable - ebooks etc. A cinematic web and a
really hand-friendly sexy ebook device like the iPod. I find the Xbox really
engaging, some games pull me along, others digust me. Net radio works for
me, listening to rebroadcasts of interviews, alt music stations etc.


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