Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cyber and Control

Super-smart-dude Ed Felten notes Obama's plan to establish a "National Cyber Advisor," and uses the occasion to consider the background of the word (an old Greek word meaning "(roughly) one who guides a boat, such as a pilot of rudder operator").

He notes the ironic switch of meaning when Gibson coined it in Neuromancer to mean the "space" where network group interactions occur:
The odd thing about this usage is that the Internet lacks the kind of central control system that is the subject matter of cybernetics. Gibson knew this — his vision of the Net was decentralized and chaotic — be he liked the term anyway.
Ed goes on to discuss how the meaning of "control" is becoming more and more relevant in the concept of "cyberspace."

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