Cyberwhatnow?

So it’s not just me then.

Over the past few months, there have been an increasing number of security breaches following which governments, corporations and press have been quick to point out the dangers of “cyberspace”. The commentary hit a crescendo in recent months in the run up to Christmas with the Sony hack and the misinformation that circled around the cancelled screenings of ‘The Interview’.

To me, the term cyberspace just feels incredibly…dated. I know it’s wrong but no matter what happens, every time I hear someone utter that word, it seems to conjure up a (possibly unfair) presumption in my mind about how up to speed the person is with technology. It conjures up an older generation warning up the dangers of that internet that lives in that box with a screen in the corner of your room.

Unfair but still perhaps that’s really shouldn’t be a surprise. After all the term “cyberspace” was originally coined by William Gibson in a short story called ‘Burning Chrome‘ some 33 years ago, all the way back in 1982.

After reading this article in GigaOm by David Meyer today, I can see where my prejudice comes from. The fact is that “cyberspace” in some way envisages a separate world in some sense within which different rules must surely to apply. Yet technology is developing at such a pace that the online world upon which we increasingly rely is simultaneously becoming ever more deeply embedded within our daily lives – not least because of the connectivity on our ever-present mobile phones and the slow but perceptible shift that we’re seeing as our daily items are increasingly being fitted with sensors to develop their own online presence.

Here’s my favourite quote from the article:-

“The problem with “cyberspace” is that the word suggests a place where different rules apply, and as such it can be misleading. We all need protection from theft and fraud, whether it takes place online or offline. If we’re tracked and spied upon in the online layer, the effect is similar (though more surreptitious) to being stalked around town and in the living room. Online harassment can be as painful as being menaced in the street. We cannot allow the impact of rights violations to be downplayed because they take place online, and we create such a risk by referring to the online world as another, less immediate place.”

As David Meyer writes, such distinctions are false. It’s all the real world now

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