The Reflective Educator

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Definition of Cyber-culture

Cyber culture is the set of social expectations, etiquette, history and language used by the collection of people active on the World Wide Web.  Just as the non-cyber world is separated into cliques and countries, the cyber world is separated into taxonomies and web spheres.   The countries of the world are partially represented in cyberspace by the country domains, but more than ever people are less connected by language and locale and more by common interest.  The importance of this cyber-culture to educational technology is that it is the ground upon which we should build our e-learning frameworks as it is rapidly becoming common ground for every connected person in the world.

Electronic mannerisms and customs have developed over the years the WWW has been around and now using the WWW carries with its own language, and its own cultural references.  If you have ever chatted online about having your site ‘Dugg’ or sent a tweet to a friend, you have participated in the subculture of the web.

Every culture has its own language, and cyber-culture is not the exception to this rule.  Not only does a rich vocabulary exist, parts of the cyber-language used on the web have their own syntax and grammatical structure.  In fact the number of words is so great, an online dictionary, Netlingo.com, has sprung up to keep track of them.

Cyber-culture has its own areas of social interaction, and its structure is very much like that of the old market towns of Medieval Europe.  The markets are represented by Ebay.com and Amazon.com and other analogous sites.  The money lenders do business in the online banking world; social connections between people are represented by popular websites such as Facebook.com and Twitter.com. 

Cyber society is divided into social status groups, where one’s ability to communicate online elevates your status,   however these social status groups by and large follow the same groups which exist outside of cyber-space.  An additional division in this online society is by topic, with a lot of the discussion forums mimicking (or in some cases replacing) real life discussions about what are often very important issues.

Over the years cyber culture has been changing rapidly.  This is partially because the browsers and website are capable of so much more rich media than in the past, and partially because the internet is becoming ubiquitous in mainstream offline society.    Everyone in the real world has to have a connection to the cyber-world we have constructed.  Businesses can mark their success by the strength of their online brand.  Some trends in use of the internet show that internet users have been decreasing in age, and that the ways these younger use the internet are much different than their parents.

It is not entirely clear where cyber-culture is headed, although it is clear it is here to stay.  Will it under-go another upheaval when some new form of rich media becomes available online?  Only time will tell; but the evolution will be determined by us.