Some commentators, such as David Holmes in his book Virtual Politics: Thus, it is safe to say that arguments for and against Internet practices aren't drawn along clear political lines. Internet and cyberculture enthusiasts come from all shades of political persuasion. With e-mail lists and electronic message boards available, employees may view such managerial behavior as alienating. By blurring the line between work time and personal time, critics contend, the Internet and business cyberculture foster a model of living in which employees are, in a sense, always "on call," potentially eroding the quality of personal time. Some say the explosion of information technologies changes the dynamics between business, social, and ethical issues. Instead of physical borders separating one people from another, these critics contend, the Internet establishes a border between those use it and those who do not or cannot go online.
Still others see little that is so completely revolutionary in the kind of transformations wrought by the Internet. But if cyberculture has been hailed by politicos of all stripes, it is also criticized by as broad a spectrum. The word "cyberculture" is used in a variety of ways, often referring to certain cultural products and practices born of computer and Internet technologies, but also to specific subcultures that champion computer-related hobbies, art, and language. Finally, cyberculture in the business world encourages the practice of thinking outside of existing paradigms, and thus businesses hoping to build a strong Internet presence need to encourage innovation and novel ideas among all their employees. This "digital divide" was of increasing concern to social activists and policy planners, and to businesses as well, who see the divide as a stopgap to their future marketing strategies. Social conservatives railed against the excessive openness of the Internet and its attendant capacity to spread materials and ideas they find indecent or morally or socially unacceptable, while left-leaning advocates warned against the excessive commercialization of the Internet and its tendency to transform social needs and relationships into personalized consumer needs, fracturing social solidarity. This openness, the argument goes, will pressure business strategists to take controversial social issues into account to avoid jeopardizing their sales or, at the least, to avoid missing valuable business opportunities. Children growing up in this period, however, will never know an era when the Internet wasn't an entirely natural component of life, when it was seen as a transformation from the life they knew. In the s, cyberculture was the exclusive domain of a handful of technology experts, including mathematicians, computer scientists, digital enthusiasts, and academics, devoted to exchanging and promoting ideas related to the growing fields of computers and electronics. Some commentators, such as David Holmes in his book Virtual Politics: Instead of physical borders separating one people from another, these critics contend, the Internet establishes a border between those use it and those who do not or cannot go online. These early cybercultures sometimes advanced a view of the future guided by the progressive and beneficial hand of technological change. In this way, children growing up in highly developed areas of the world in the early s were fundamentally different from their parents, for whom such computer technology was a revolution occurring in their lifetimes, sharply separating, thanks to its speed and impact, the life they knew before the Internet and the one that exists today. Thus, it is safe to say that arguments for and against Internet practices aren't drawn along clear political lines. As a result, cyberculture's shape is likely to change rapidly as younger generations come of age. The Internet's spread has been compared to the advent of the printing press, which, like the Internet , greatly enhanced the availability of information and the rate of its reproduction. If cyberculture increasingly sets the agenda in the dominant culture, those on the "wrong" side of the digital divide will inevitably find themselves more and more isolated and alienated from the societies in which they live. On the other hand, those who see the Internet as a leveling force point out that such technologies, far from steamrolling cultures and local sovereignty, actually provide a level playing field and thus a greater degree of autonomy and competitive leverage to non-U. The process of foregoing old supply chains for the efficiencies of the Internet must be carefully negotiated to avoid disintermediation, or losing business by being cut out of a supply chain altogether. Again, this feature could be either a blessing or a curse. Christopher Barnatt, for instance, writing in Human Relations , noted that "[a]cross human history, mental activities have invariably come to dominate and 'displace' activities of the body. The Internet profoundly influences what and how children learn, the vocabulary employed in daily conversation, the way people coordinate their schedules and work habits, and perceptions of distance and time. Everything from shopping, paying bills, and playing the stock market to news gathering, family interaction, romantic courtships, and play all take place in cyberspace, whereas before the mids all these activities existed more commonly in the physical world. Paul Soriano of the Internet Society pointed out that "the virtual communities of the cyberworld will not cure the acute crisis of identity that the world is suffering. Conservatives applaud the Internet's subversion of state functions such as taxation and regulatory interference with the free activity of commercial interests. As a result, some would hold that the Internet fosters a more complex tapestry of relations than ever existed in the physical world. Learn to Work the 'Off' Switch.
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