Identity & the Body in Cyberspace

Is the Mind Real?
by H. F. J. Muller
The mind as a whole escapes objective studies because belief in mind-independent reality is self-contradictory and by definition excludes subjective experience (awareness, ‘consciousness’) from reality. The mind’s center therefore vanishes in studies which imply exclusive objectivism or empiricism. This conceptual difficulty can be counteracted by acknowledging that all mental and world structures arise within an unstructured origin-and-matrix for knowledge-structures and beliefs. The mind’s experience is thus at the center of reality. Use of such a zero-structure reference can also help to clarify some related conceptual difficulties and to bridge the Cartesian gap between the ‘two cultures’.

Not Without a Body? Bodily Functions in Cyberspace
by Ute Hoffmann
It has become common knowledge that the technologies of cyberspace – electronic networks, computer-mediated communication and virtual reality systems – remove us from our body and the embodied world. Yet, in a somewhat ironic turn of history, the very same technologies have fuelled an expanding interest in the nature of embodiment.

Inhabiting the Virtual City
by Judith S. Donath
The net is more than a source for information. It is also a social network, where people are looking for affiliations. To a large extent, the future success of virtual communities depends on how well the tools for social interaction are designed.

Being Real
by Judith S. Donath
Addressing the problem of teleidentity: how do we “know” another person whom we have encountered in a mediated environment? One of the most interesting and significant is the issue of credibility: how do we know whether or not to believe what we are told by someone?

Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?
Allucquere Rosanne Stone
Cyberspace is primarily about communities and how they work. Far from the idea that one can forget about the body, Cyberspace is, in fact, where one discovers that bodies and communities constitute each other, so suggesting a set of questions and debates for the burgeoning virtual electronic community.

by Moses A. Boudourides and Evangelia Drakou
The belief or hope was that because bodily features are not obviously discernible in cyberspace, they would cease to be a primary means of structuring interaction. Floating free of corporeal experience, the mind would generate new forms for rendering self and other and for organizing interpersonal communication. That, however, did not happen. Cyberspace, has not managed to neutralize gender: on the contrary, it appears to be organized by the patriarchal forms, which exist in Real Life (RL), as one can ascertain by examining online chat rooms and cyber-games.

Closer Look at the Disembodiment of Cyberspace
University of Warwick
An examination of issues concerning how people are represented, and how these representations through the electronic medium affect people’s social relationships and own identities. What is the social function of the body, and what does the absence of body mean for social relationships?

Decolonizing Identity in Cyberspace
by Carrie Gates is a relatively new chapter in the unfolding of the history of art, and it responds to, and is made possible by, technologies that are also relatively new to us, namely, the Internet and its introduction of the concept of virtual space.

Hello, and what are we today?
by Mike Jones
When we log on to a computer network we are given the opportunity of putting our ‘self’ on line. The identity of that ‘self’ is as flexible as the users imagination, scanning electrons of crystallised thought, which can be as transient as thought. This essay will briefly discuss some of the debates surrounding the impact of technology on notions of the body and identity, with particular focus on the use of the Internet to create different personae and communities.

Cybersex Amongst Multiple-Selves and Cyborgs in the Narrow-Bandwidth Space of America Online Chat Rooms
by Robin B. Hamman
Cybersex in online chat rooms is defined here as having two forms: 1) computer mediated interactive masturbation in real time and, 2) computer mediated telling of interactive sexual stories (in real time) with the intent of arousal. Computer-mediated-communication is narrow-bandwidth, where face to face interaction from body language and other physical cues are not transmitted, making misinterpretations frequent. This has led to the emergence of a new language which helps users to avoid misinterpretations. The anonymity of chat rooms allows users to safely and freely experiment with their multiplicity of selves. The multiple selves that users of online chat rooms experiment with online are part of a whole self. People become cyborgs when two boundaries become problematic, 1) the boundary between animal and human and, 2) the boundary between human and machine.

The Body Problem
by Barbara Montero
Is the mind physical? Are mental properties, such as the property of being in pain or thinking about the higher orders of infinity, actually physical properties? Certainly many philosophers think that they are. For no matter how strange and remarkable consciousness and cognition may be, many hold that they are, nevertheless, entirely physical. While some take this view as a starting point in their discussions about the mind, others, well aware that there are dissenters among the ranks, argue for it strenuously. One wonders, however, just what is being assumed, argued for, or denied. In other words, one wonders, Just what does it mean to be physical? This is the question I call, “the body problem.”

Exploring the Influence of a Virtual Body on Spatial Awareness
by Mark Draper
Three virtual reality (VR) studies were conducted to explore the potential for a virtual body (VB) to enhance a participant’s spatial awareness of a new virtual environment by providing an invariant, subtle point of reference for object positioning and scaling.

The Future of the Dream Body in Virtual Reality
by Scott Kaper
What is virtual reality? As technical considerations have dampened much of the free fancy that the term originally engendered and washed away from the bedrock many wild speculations, we are now in a position to answer this question more soberly. One surprising idea remains: Virtual reality will become a technology “not just of the brain and mind, but of the soul.”1 This doubtless seems like more wild speculation. I will argue that, on the contrary, it is a natural outgrowth of a particular cultural perspective, one that is very familiar to us.

Disembodiment and Cyberspace: A Phenomenological Approach
by Btihaj Ajana
The aim of this paper is to examine the entangled relationship between the technology of cyberspace and the rhetoric of disembodiment by using Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological approach. I start with an overview of the Enlightenment’s epistemology regarding the body and precisely that of the Cartesian split, then go on to argue how the body still subsists in the symbolic world created by virtual reality, focusing on materiality, speciality and bodily experiences within the realm of cyberspace. This in an attempt to negate the idea that digital environment is the location par excellence for fulfilling the dream of Cartesian dualism.

A Rape in Cyberspace
by Julian Dibbell
How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society

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