The Cyberspace by Esther Dyson - A Summary

The Cyberspace is a discussion on the possibilities and challenges involved in using cyberspace.  Although the wonder and excitement related to cyberspace as expressed in the essay is slightly outdated, it contains a few arguments that are still relevant.

Dyson begins the essay by explaining what cyberspace actually is.  Instead of the information superhighway analogy, she uses the example of real estate.  As in real residential areas, there are different kinds of places in cyberspace.  Some are public, some are private.  Some places are suitable for all, but some are not suitable for children.

But the idea that cyberspace is a dangerous place where unsuspecting children are forced to visit certain places is totally unfounded.  What you do in cyberspace is optional and voluntary.  So instead of regulating cyberspace from outside, it is more desirable to have self-rule.

A unique feature of cyberspace is that it liberates us from the tyranny of power structures.  Real societies mostly work in a democratic way.  Democracy, although it has many advantages, is a rule by the majority. Minority voices are not heard and it is difficult for them to survive there.  But in cyberspace, all minority groups have total freedom.

Cyberspace allows communities of any size and kind to flourish.  Here, communities are chosen by the users and not forced on them by accidents of geography.  If you do not like it, you are free to leave it.  Another advantage of cyberspace communities is that they don't interfere with anyone else.

As society is not perfect, cyberspace communities are also not perfect.  Gradually we have to test and evolve rules governing what needs to be governed.  But at least we have individual choice and individual responsibility.

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