Blast from the past: Bruce Sterling on Cyberspace

With everybody and his dog prepending cyber- to almost everywhere, declaring the cyberspace as a new war dimension (the first four being earth, sea, air and space) abusing and overusing terms like cyberwar, cyberdefense, cyber-infrastructure it is a good idea to return to the basics, like the very definition of the cyberspace. Luckily in his 1992 “Hacker Crackdown” introduction, Bruce Sterling came to assist us, long before a definition for the wider public was needed:

A science fiction writer coined the useful term “cyberspace” in 1982, but the territory in question, the electronic frontier, is about a hundred and thirty years old. Cyberspace is the “place” where a telephone conversation appears to occur. Not inside your actual phone, the plastic device on your desk. Not inside the other person’s phone, in some other city. THE PLACE BETWEEN the phones. The indefinite place OUT THERE, where the two of you, two human beings, actually meet and communicate.

Although it is not exactly “real,” “cyberspace” is a genuine place. Things happen there that have very genuine consequences. This “place” is not “real,” but it is serious, it is earnest. Tens of thousands of people have dedicated their lives to it, to the public service of public communication by wire and electronics.

Even if you have no interest in reading about Operation Sundevil, the introduction of the book is a very informative essay on cyberspace that stands on its own.

Read Next: Proposal for cyber war rules of engagement.

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