Sunday, June 26, 2005

Images and the edges of cyberspace

When I first went online more than a decade ago, I found the text-based tools of the Internet - like Gopher and WAIS - interesting and useful, but it wasn't until cyberspace went visual with the new "browsers" like Mosaic that my eyeballs started popping. Let's face it, what made computers and cyberspace take to public use like wild fire was the fact that we weren't just reading text, but rather interacting with windows, icons, and pictures - and experiencing the sense of space and place that images create. Words appeal more to the conscious rational mind, images to the unconscious dreaming mind. In fact, it was my fascination with the visual and spatial qualities of the Palace chat community that launched me into cyberpsychology.

As an imagistic type person, I've been delving deeper into digital photography this summer. I recently purchased the slr Canon 20D and am digging into Photoshop CS2. I contemplated writing about these pursuits here in this blog, but I hesistated, thinking that perhaps it wasn't relevant to cyberpsychology.

Or is it? As I suggested in my previous post, I'm not entirely sure what "cyberspace" is. I can't exactly define it, but I know it when I see it. When I place online a picture from my camera, clearly that picture becomes part of cyberspace. So then the camera itself has entered cyberspace, has become an extension of cyberspace, another eye for the Internet.... Right?

If there are any doubts remaining, I should mention that I'm researching online resources for digital photography, and have entered the forums at PhotoPoint and dpreview, where I get information and insights that lead to changes in my camera and PS settings, my techniques, and my philosophy of photography. I share photos online with family and friends. After contemplating the pros and cons of whether I wanted to bother with the arcane world of color management, I decided to go ahead and download the printer profiles that have now become integrated into my computer workstation and how I interpret color. Since I first started my online book The Psychology of Cyberspace, I've been creating graphics for it in order to highlight certain psychological themes. It seems to me that the psychological aspects of photography are intimately intertwined with the psychological aspects of what I do in cyberspace.

Which makes me think.... is it possible to find the edges of cyberspace, the boundary beyond which we have left that psychological realm? If you have your hands on a cell phone, the Tivo or XM radio clicker, or an iPod, don't you have at least one foot in cyberspace? As technological gadgets enter more and more spaces in our lives, cyberspace follows. It and we are all interconnected in very subtle and hidden ways. Perhaps we don't even need the gadgets in our hands to be there. Perhaps just a thought, an image, of something you experienced in cyberspace places you there.

When it comes right down to it, cyberspace is an extension of the mind - an image of the mind.


Blogger Rick said...

Another stimulating post! It is very helpful, of course, that you link to sections of your book.

Having read Julian Jaynes book, "The Origins of Consciousness", I understand the theory of consciousness as an evolving entity, but your idea that the internet is a form of consciousness that is an extension or a manifestation of the human world is difficult to wrap my mind around. Although . . .why not? What else could it be? I'm kind of "feeling" my way along, here.

And the notion that when digital photos are posted "the camera itself has entered cyberspace, has become an extension of cyberspace, another eye for the Internet...." is quite challanging.

A little aside: years ago a photographer and friend told me many, many more cameras than typewriters were sold in the U.S. Yet students were given no courses on how to see, look, observe while given many on how to write. I suspect a comparison of digital camera and computer sales would be very different from the 1969 comparison of cameras and typewriters. You can plug your camera into your word processor now, they go together. I can take my consciousness of what is worthy of a picture and send it out there for all to see, if they wish. This is making me nuts! I gotta go.

11:37 AM  
Blogger John Suler said...

If you can't wrap your mind around it, then it must be consciousness! :-)

How true about teaching to write but not to see... except in art courses. In our western culture we tend to emphasize left over right brain education.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Moshe Dror said...

hi there-
do either of you agree with the theories of Dr. leonard Shlain in his "The Alphabet versus the Goddess"?
He is dealing about the same ideas of images -cyberspace and brain hemisphere.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Moshe Dror said...

How might we create models of beyond text services in churches, synagogues in Temples for Tomorrow . we know how to do that in geospace
can we do this in cyberspace?
what might it mean for outerspace?
moshe dror

9:38 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Throughout your 'Psychology of Cyberspace' pages, you discuss the situations and experiences surrounding The Palace. I was curious if you've explored some of the newer 'cyberspace' technologies, such at Linden Lab's SecondLife.

Chromal Brodsky

1:09 PM  
Blogger John Suler said...

I've taken a brief look at secondlife and some of the more recent multimedia environments, but have not explored them in any depth. So much to do in cyberspace, so little time! :-) Thanks for mentioning it, Chromal.

I'm also not familiar with Shlain's work, but have recently just taken a peek into it. Interesting ideas.

My studies of cyberspace started with the Palace about ten years ago, but since then has broadend out into other topic areas - especially educational and therapeutic activities. Much of this I discuss in various articles in my online book.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Valery said...

In web space you need to know a lot of color psychology:)

4:16 AM  

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