Cyberspace refers to the non-physical environment created by connected computers that interoperate in a network. In cyberspace, computer operators interact similarly to the real world, except that cyberspace interaction requires no physical movement other than typing. Information can be exchanged in real time or delayed, and people can shop, share, explore, search, work or play.
Cyberspace is the environment in which computer users and others who communicate electronically find themselves.
The Internet forms the largest environment in cyberspace, harboring many sub-environments within it. This includes the World Wide Web (Web), USENET newsgroups, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
Avatars are commonly featured in cyberspace.
The Web is the most popular destination, consisting of millions of websites where visitors can find just about everything. He or she may also create a personal website to host information, photos, movies, music, or interactive forums. Web forums allow people to chat in a bulletin board-like interface. Stakeholders respond to each other by posting comments on topics. Forums are public and are a very popular way to socialize in cyberspace.
IRC is an area of Internet cyberspace that provides conversational interaction between computer operators.
USENET newsgroups can be read through dedicated USENET sites or with a newsreader. A newsgroup is similar to a web forum, except that each newsgroup has a single dedicated topic. There are over 100,000 newsgroups and it keeps growing, so you can find a group dedicated to just about anything of interest. And while web forums and newsgroups are good for short, chatty comments, newsgroups are great for long debates. In USENET cyberspace, you can share hobbies, find support groups, get quick, personalized answers to hardware or software issues, or participate in any other discussion.
Cyberspace can provide anonymous tools to express frustrations.
IRC is another area of Internet cyberspace that offers conversational interaction between computer operators. The difference is that IRC offers live chat. Within seconds (or milliseconds) of pressing the ENTER key to post a response, the participant’s response appears in the public “chat room”. IRC is similar to a shared-line phone conversation, except it requires typing instead of speaking. Instant messaging (IM) is similar to IRC in that it is instant, and e-mail is also instantaneous, although the receiving party may not collect the mail immediately.
Hackers use cyberspace to connect to other computers.
While all of these online environments can be considered cyberspace, virtual reality reflects the most literal definition. In this form of cyberspace, participants see the actual graphic space and computer operators interacting in that space as “avatars” or characters. One can walk, run, fly, create objects, buy virtual real estate, buy clothes or items that the avatar can wear, develop a business, build a house or art gallery, chat with other avatars, dance or do any other activities. Virtual reality realms, such as those offered by Second Life, are so enticing that many people find them addictive.
Virtual reality environments may be the most literal definition of cyberspace.
Games can present a type of virtual reality known as simulations (Sims), or environments that parallel real life with striking realism. While Second Life has characteristics of fantasy, many games attempt to be as realistic as possible. Others incorporate horror, such as monstrous villains. Technically, single player games do not qualify as cyberspace as they lack networked interaction, but the definition has been essentially blurred to include any electronically generated environment.
The word “cyberspace” first appeared in William Gibson’s award-winning, Neuromancer (1984). The book is a futuristic sci-fi tale about a washed-up hacker feeding off self-destructive habits, when he is unexpectedly hired to do a seemingly impossible job for compensation he can’t afford to turn down. Ironically (or not), many futuristic details in the book parallel modern life, and certainly this term has imbedded itself deep in contemporary culture.
Most forums offer a reporting feature for obscene or harassing posts.