While reading the Bell (2001) article I kept remembering the movie Hackers from 1995. The teen stars are counter culture and fighting the man… everything from their style of dress to their attitude is counter culture, punk influenced… and perhaps could be described as cyber punk.
I loved the idea of being able to use a computer to change and shape the world. Perhaps this and other similar movies are why I started studying computers in the first place. Or maybe just my desire to “fight the man.” Looking back now, I’ve come to realize that although I still root for the underdog and the anarchists, I have become the “man.”
What struck me most about the movie, and about most Hollywood movies dealing with computer hacking is not only how they make it seem so easy, but how graphically they illustrate the process. Hacking the Gibson (perhaps an homage to William Gibson who Bell identifies as “the author who defined the genre as well as defining the cyberpunk version of cyberspace”) is seen as flying through building like structures to a destination… As Bell (2001) describes cyberspace as “resembling the urban landscape, with flows of data like traffic and banks of data like skyscrapers”
Has Hollywood’s vision of cyberspace been accepted as true by the masses? With the popularity of films like the Matrix and Tron, we must ask if those who do not know any different actually believe that data can be interacted with in this way? Is it just that it is so alien that they must humanize it, and associate it with things they could relate to? i.e. urban landscapes
If we imagine taking a person from a culture not exposed to technology, where perhaps they believe that taking a picture steals your soul, how might they react to being exposed to a virtual world like Second Life? Could they be convinced that the avatars which they could create and control are not in fact part of themselves that have become integrated with the machine? Is Hollywood playing into this notion that we are perhaps afraid of what cyberspace might become, or is it as Bell states that we are constantly “shifting our overall perspective on cyberspace and our place within it?”