chapter  5
101 Pages

Cyberculture: Technology, Nature and Culture

Introduction New media form part of cyberculture, but they are not all there is to it. ‘Cyberculture’, a frequently used term, suggests something about the sort of culture we are dealing with: it is a culture in which machines play a particularly important role. Nobody who has heard the term is unaware of the other constituents of that culture: other than communications networks, programming, and software there are also the issues of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, artificial life, and the human-computer interface. The works of fiction that gave a cultural context to the computers, such as William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1986), Richard Kadrey’s Metrophage (1989), Pat Cadigan’s Synners (1991), and Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix (1985), or the films that provided its characteristic images, from Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982, 1992) to the Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix (1999), routinely not only play out plots concerning computers and computer media but also explore the construction and politics of artificial life (Bladerunner), the complexity and technological resources of organic bodies (Neuromancer, Matrix), and even, with Cadigan’s (1991) famous online stroke, the indissociability of biological and technological systems: hence the ‘syn-’ part of her title.