[-empyre-] FW: VII Place and topos

Jonathan Marshall Jonathan.Marshall at uts.edu.au
Thu Oct 11 15:19:52 EST 2012


To approach the question of speaking, people seemed to have to feel through by metaphors; although it was not phrased that way.  People asked what kind of space was Cybermind – what did it resemble? Was it a public space, a field shared by many, a pub, someone’s living room, a private club open to all and so on? What kind of reactions where appropriate to such spaces? What was acceptable behaviour in such spaces?

Such argumentation was not rare. The offline world is not uniform, so why should the online be thought to be uniform?

So as well as cyberspace being embodied in space, there also seemed to be a way in which the ‘space’ of an online place was a ‘topos’ in the classical Greek sense (a ‘commonplace’): a place which persuades by means of its associations, and in this case by the behaviours which are normal in such a space. This topos is also a topic of invention, influence and affiliation. If some family of events is doable in space A, then if this space is like space A we should be perform these events.  Competitions over the nature of the place defined what could be said there, how we could behave there and possibly came to condition what counted as hurtful or violatory.

Place/topos embodies arguments, ways of being, types of action, and the way words mean. Hence the importance, at one time, of the metaphor of ‘electronic frontier’ – it said something about how we were supposed to expand and conquer and shoot up those we did not like, and establish our own laws. different implications arise when we define online social life as virtual.

Living online, in its very fundamentals involves rhetoric and the exercise of power and persuasion.  That was how cultures were made, as modes of place, action, interpretation and belonging. That is  a possible form of integration.

however, it should not be thought that modes of topos were inherently stable; they would have to be re-established and re-argued, or subliminal... until the problem emerged again, and a new venture was made, with the risks that enabled.


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