“We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” (Barlow 1996). Barlow’s A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, highlights the difference between the on and offline worlds. It describes the core elements attributed to cyberspace, however due to the text being 18 years old there are some misrepresented ideas.
As one could imagine the text is mainly imposing that this new cyberspace is to be independent to the “flesh and steel” world. Barlow’s main argument against outside interference of the cyber world is that the online community was self created and run. Congruently Barlow describes a difference in values between the ‘real’ and cyber world, however these differences are not as prevalent as Barlow writes.
Firstly, Barlow writes that the cyberspace is not created nor run by governments or their rules, his comments are more distain of future possibilities rather than commentary on the 1996 current state. However it seemed inevitable that the organisation and social rules of the physical world would leak in. Although not directly in charge, the idea that the cyber-world would remain independent of the physical world is shattered due to indirect institution of control. Whether it be subconscious or conscious , the general rules and institutions of society are instilled into the cyber world due to the users. This idea Barlow upholds regarding a user created space ultimately is the precise utility resulting in the conflicting idea of a government-free space.
Cyberspace – it seems- is under governmental control both directly and indirectly. Social issues such as child pornography and excessive violence are moderated and censored by both users and governmental parties.
Wholly Barlow has the right idea about a non governmental space, however the intrusion is inevitable.
Barlow, J.P. 1996, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, American Humanist Association, Washington, D.C.