Reconceptualizing Cyberspace: “Real” Places in Digital Space

By Guo Freeman and Elin K. Jacob.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We explore the nature of cyberspace and shed light on the intellectual puzzles of space, place and cyberspace by briefly reviewing previous discussions of space and place and presenting a simple framework that clarifies the relationships among these three concepts. We argue that, epistemologically, space and place are independent concepts imbued with different connotations. However, space and place are intertwined both practically and experientially because they constitute mutually complementary roles and functions in social life. Based on this argument, we develop a four-dimensional framework for distinguishing between space and place and apply it in a reconceptualization of cyberspace. We reject the notion that cyberspace is simply a “space” and argue, instead, that cyberspace is a spatial metaphor applied to the familiar places of the digital environment that have become, for many, such an essential part of everyday life.

Keywords: Cyberspace, Space, Place

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.91-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 758.536KB).

Dr. Guo Freeman

PhD Student, School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Guo Zhang is a doctoral student in the School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests include human–computer interaction, computer-mediated communication, and social impacts of digital media.

Elin K. Jacob

Associate Professor of Library and Information Science, School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Elin K. Jacob is an Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests include representation, theories of classification and categorization, and the philosophy of information.