New Media, Fall 2019/Lesson 7

From Gerald R. Lucas
< New Media, Fall 2019
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85288 nmac 4460.01 Online Fall, 2019

Cyberspace (or VR)
October 7–11


Lesson seven looks at virtual reality, or what we used to call “cyberspace.” The idea of plugging in to the machine was a science fiction trope popularized by the cyberpunks, and it drove our first experiences with the Internet. However, since we’re always already connected, this idea is a bit outmoded. In today's world of augmented reality, the virtual has become so tightly integrated with reality, that the notion of “logging in” has become quaint. Yet, with the resurgence of VR gear, like the Oculus Rift, it has propelled cyberspace once again into the public consciousness. This week, we examine cyberspace as medium.

Wikipedia Work

Complete all reading and training under Week 9 on the WikiEdu dashboard.

Read and View

Read Julian Dibbell’s “A Rape in Cyberspace” (PDFFileicon-pdf.png) and Alexandra Alter’s “Is this Man Cheating on His Wife?” (PDFFileicon-pdf.png); watch “You Only Live Twice: Virtual Reality Meets Real World in Second Life.”

Journal Post 13

What did you get out of the assigned texts? What do they add to your understanding of new media? What do they tell us about “being digital”? How do they employ the hacker spirit? How do they fit into your experience?

You might consider these questions:

  1. What does the prefix “cyber” mean?
  2. Who coined the term “cyberspace” and what does it mean? How has it grown since then?
  3. Cyberspace didn’t begin with computers. What were some of the original conceptions of it?
  4. How does “cyberspace” influence our conception or perception of the “real”?
  5. What do we even mean by “real life”? How do we know what is real?
  6. Dibbell states that typing a command in a MOO is like uttering a magic word. What does he mean?
  7. What are the implications of the “Bungle Affair” on how we think about crimes like rape?
  8. Is Ric Hoogestraat cheating on his wife? Why or why not?


For this part, you have two choices — the second one will be more fun. Please complete one:

Option 1

Look at a couple of the texts under the suggested readings — I recommend Barlow, Evans, and Turkle — or find your own that address cyberspace, VR, and/or AR.

Option 2

Create an Avatar in Second Life.

Journal Post 14

What more did you learn or experience? How does that fit into your understanding of new media? Try to bring in several different sources to support your ideas.

Reply to at least one of your colleagues’ journal posts for this lesson.

Due Date

Please have all of the above completed by Sunday, October 13, 2019. I will evaluate your this lesson the following day, email everyone a progress report, and post audio feedback at the top of the next lesson if necessary.


  1. External sources are always footnoted as references; Wikipedia entries are always just linked in the text. Never cite a Wikipedia article like you would an external source.