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The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and Global Restructuring Paperback – March 23, 1997

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ISBN-13: 978-0415147248 ISBN-10: 0415147247

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Editorial Reviews Review

Organizing and governing cyberspace is a lot like herding cats. Even the concept of governance itself is a source of frenzied debate. Some see the online world as a nascent utopia that should be free of regulation, where the only rule should be the rule of technology itself. Others view the present state of online anarchy with alarm, as a threat to either vested power or perceived morality. And there are the so-called neo-Luddites who see humanity itself threatened by this new mode of interaction.

The essays in The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and Global Restructuring attempt to steer a reasonable course between these extremes. A repeated premise is that governance is not necessarily a matter of imposed regulatory control but that it can arise naturally out of long-term interactions among groups and individuals.

Contributors to this book include political theorists, computer scientists, social theorists, science fiction writers, psychologists, and sociologists. There are no attempts at easy answers here. Instead, the writers examine tradeoffs involved in difficult issues: the right to privacy versus protection from criminal activity; freedom of speech versus use of the Internet by hate groups; and the use of individually controlled technology versus the increase in cost that such solutions could mean for large numbers of Internet users. Given the increasing size, commercialization, and polarization of the Net, this careful exploration of the ramifications of governance is a welcome contribution.


A fascinating and provocative volume which raises all the relevant questions relating to the awesome problem of social control in cyberspace. Impressively coherent in its argument, it tackles theory, the problem of boundaries and the question of surveillance.
–Mike Gane, Loughborough University

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (March 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415147247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415147248
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,378,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Hart on October 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
This interesting volume is the end result of a small conference held at the University of Teesside in April 1995. It contains a combination of essays using social scientific and literary analysis to "advance the debate about the governance of cyberspace" (p. xii).
The introductory essay by the editor of the volume, Brian Loader, defines cyberspace as "a computer-generated public domain which has no territorial boundaries or physical attributes and is in perpetual use." While the current form that cyberspace takes is roughly coterminous with the Internet, it need not be so in the future. The key question is how this thing is to be governed.
Loader identifies a number of perspectives on what cyberspace is and how it should be governed. He identifies the cyber-libertarians as an important group who oppose any government intervention in cyberspace. An influential member of this group is John Perry Barlow, former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and now a rancher in Wyoming. Barlow was one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
The editor contrasts cyber-libertarians and other cyberenthusiasts with authors like William Gibson, of the
science fiction genre called "cyberpunk," and political philosophers like Jean Baudrillard who stress the dangers of the illusion of reality created by computer technology. The addition of yet another layer of intermediation augments the already extensive alienation of humans from nature and from each other. The nightmare scenario is a future in which no one interacts face to face anymore but pretends to do so while actually sitting in a room hooked up to fancy equipment.
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The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and Global Restructuring
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