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9/20/2008

Uniqueness of space in Cyberspace

The nature of space in Cyberspace is very different from the space that we know. What we are accustomed to is a three dimensional space that can be define in physical terms. The space within our properties, the geographic space of a country, a space that is either yours or mine or share by all. Hong Lim Park is a physical space. What about the space in our minds? Cyberspace is very similar to such mental space except that one can actually visit such a space. Mysingaporenews, redbeanforum or any forum in cyberspace is just an abstract space in nowhere. Each space can actually be as big as the universe and can be ever expanding. And the best part of it is that everyone can have a cyberspace as huge as the universe but not at any time infringed or violated into another person's cyberspace. And that space literally does not exist if one does not key in the cyberspace address to enter that space. Why or how can such space that is there but not there be subject to regulations? If no one wants to key in www.redbeanforum.com or www.mysingaporenews.blogspot.com, these places do not exist at all. The person who enters into someone's cyberspace, enters on his own initiative. The cyberspace owner can openly announce to visitors that they need not visit if they are not comfortable with the space. The govt needs not visit any cyberspace site. The physical govt can exist in its own physical dimension and at the same time cyberspaces can exist in parallel but in a different dimension without encroaching on the physical space of the govt. So why the hang ups and the uneasiness of the existence of cyberspaces? Why can't cyberspaces exist without the interference of govts?

19 comments:

suhaw said...

In many ways, a government is like an organisation, a company or even an individual.

While I agree with you that "cyberspace" is very different in nature from the physical 3-dimensional space, I am more hesitant to declare that the two "spaces" must be kept distinctly separate.

If cyberspace content were to refer only to other content or creations solely of cyberspace origins, there can probably be a case to be made that physical world governments should not interfere. But the truth is that many, if not most, cyberspace matters are very intricately linked with physical world entities and issues.

For example, most blog entries I read refer to real-life individuals, companies, organisations and governments, and discuss events and issues IRL. Even the virtual Second Life universe is linked to the real world through the fluctuating L$/US$ exchange rate.

As I see it, the virtual world is simply an extension of the real world. Things that we "do" in cyberspace are representations of what the "real-world" us seek to effect in another communication channel.

Permit me to illustrate the potential the effect of cyberspace actions on entities in the real world.

Imagine if you were to run a food outlet and some malicious individual were to spread some rumours online questioning your outlet's hygiene, or even fake some photographs of finding maggots in the food that you serve, or post some "doctored" citations that your food outlet failed some hygiene inspections, etc.

Wouldn't you want the real world authorities to take action against the real-world malicious individual ?

redbean said...

hi suhaw,

i think most people, if not everyone, will agree that mischiefs, misconduct, crimes etc are no exceptions whether in cyberspace or in the real world.

what is unacceptable is the need to control just because cyberspace exists. and we know better what the reasons are to control cyberspace.

cyberspace is quite like once diary. confidential and not to be subject to regulations. but when exposed and shown to have ill intent or mischief, it still comes under the law.

but would any govt ever think of regulating people's diary?

Anonymous said...

"Wouldn't you want the real world authorities to take action against the real-world malicious individual?"

Err I think that is why we already have the law of libel, defamation along with the Penal code su haw.

Besides govt's have to understand one overiding reality when they go online into the virtual world.

They are not so much movers and shakers here as they remain a Mr Anybody and maybe Mr Nobody.

All their tools for one are useless. And their networks are equally inapplicable. So they would do well to thread very carefully.

Only a fool rushes into a business, he knows nothing about.

Anonymous said...

I have never been to the desert before. But if one day. I save up enough money. I would like to visit the sahara. As I have heard so much about it. But when I am there, I dont do as I suka (like). I will probably do as what the locals do. As I believe they have lived there for generations. So they know the place better. If they carry 2 bottles of water. I do the same. If they wrap their face from the sun. I do the same. If they say stop here. I do the same.

When in Rome do as the Romans do.

If you keep talking all this language of regulation, control and making the world a better place using a hammer.

Maybe you may not be the right man for the job of promoting AIMS? Maybe you are doing their image more harm than good?

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Just to add on, if I may?

“Imagine if you were to run a food outlet and some malicious individual were to spread some rumours online questioning your outlet's hygiene, or even fake some photographs of finding maggots in the food that you serve, or post some "doctored" citations that your food outlet failed some hygiene inspections, etc.

Wouldn't you want the real world authorities to take action against the real-world malicious individual?”

Conversely,

Imagine if some firm were to run either a food outlet or food manufacturing facility and some good hearted whistle blower were to highlight certain dubious manufacturing practices by posting genuine photographs of certain short cuts and banned substances being added to make these products etc

Wouldn’t you as a consumer benefit from it? Wouldn’t kids be saved?

My point is there are always pluses as there are minuses.

I don’t fully agree completely with the view of the author who wrote this excellent article that the net should be a terra incognita reserved only for netizens. There is certainly plenty of room and scope for govt’s to project into blogosphere. The reasons are compelling. Here
http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/09/consider/

The real issue at hand, I believe is crafting a common sense lens that is able to unite both govt’s and netizen to see all these competing interest in the right perspective that effectively allows them to makes sense of the threats and opportunities.

I think the real key to government success in blogosphere may lie in having to UNLEARN old things rather than LEARNING new things like break dancing and rapping.

Otherwise, it will be uphill all the way for both sides.

Thank you for allowing me to make this comment.

The Director General of the FILB

Reg

Y2K

suhaw said...

Hi redbean,

I am happy that we agree that there are times when the authorities have to act on some cyberspace actions which infringe upon real-world laws.

However, I am not quite sure what you meant when you wrote: "need to control just because cyberspace exists". Personally, I am not sure how any government can "control" cyberspace. Sure, governments will pass laws to regulate cyberspace actions that affect real-world entities. But a few laws does not "control" make, imho.

In particular, just as governments didn't used to regulate confidential diaries, I am not aware of any government that is seeking to regulate blogs (or online diaries) which are kept confidential. Blogs only hit the authorities' radar screens when they become publicly available or shared by such a big group of individuals that they are no longer confidential.

And the reason why the authorities should interfere in non-private blogs is because they have become very much unlike the diaries of the past. Because of the wide readership, the blog writings have acquired a power to affect others, positively as well as negatively.

Imagine if somebody were to blog along the lines of the illustration I gave in my earlier comment about you running a food outlet. Surely you would want the authorities to act against the blogger to prevent him/her from ruining your legitimate business ?

suhaw said...

On September 22, 2008 at 3:12 PM, Anonymous wrote: "When in Rome do as the Romans do.
"If you keep talking all this language of regulation, control and making the world a better place using a hammer."

First, AIMS is recommending that a few existing regulations be eased or even repealed, ie we are calling for a relaxation of the rules, not new ones or more onerous ones. Won't you support our calls for a freer online space?

And in our recommendations to the authorities for E-Engagement, we do hope that they will "do as the Romans do". In fact, if you have any example(s) of how the authorities have not behaved like "Roman netizens" in the past, do highlight so that we can include such illustrations in our revised paper.

There are of course exceptions. For example, while you have chosen to post your comment anonymously, I don't think we should recommend that the authorities post their comments likewise, ie anonymously too. :-)

suhaw said...

On September 22, 2008 at 5:03 PM, anonymous said...
"I think the real key to government success in blogosphere may lie in having to UNLEARN old things rather than LEARNING new things like break dancing and rapping."

I am in agreement with most of the things you wrote in your comment.

Pardon me for asking what may seem obvious to many readers: Would you be able to elaborate on - or provide a few examples of - the "old things" that you feel the government should UNLEARN?

Many thanks.

redbean said...

hi y2k and suhaw,

i have two positions on the control/regulation of internet. as a matter of principle, i would like cyberspace to be free for the free souls. they can be called to answer whenever they break the existing laws. no escape in this area whether they are new laws or not.

as a matter of practically, some minor regulations may be necessary. and i can live with that.

but regulations or control, depending on how one views it, or how the authority administers it, is a very thin line. the more laws there are, the more opportunity to interpret the laws to one's advantage. i will avoid commenting on how this could be done in paradise. i will use the examples in msia.

the isa is a neutral law and was necessary during the anti communist era, depending on which side one is on. but look at how the isa is being abused just a few days back. and also how the police towed the govt's line and hide behind the isa to arrest innocent citizens.

laws are easily abused, especially for political reasons. the lesser we have, the better. a cycling event is a danger to safety and security. depends on who is interpreting it.

there is no barrier to govt being involved or actively engaging the netizens. they can be an equal player to inform, correct misinformation, and play an active role in educating the netizens and rallying them for national causes. the good thing here is that netizens have the freedom to choose and causes that are unsupportable will not be supported. no arm twisting, no dictation culture.

the govt should feel free to engage the netizens as recommended by AIMS.

Anonymous said...

Hello Suhaw,

Certainly. By “old things,” I guess, I am referring to a structure or even a way of thinking and making sense of stuff and how they would fit in the greater scheme of things.

I am not very good at writing profoundly. So you have to excuse me suhaw, if I come across as vague and even not as incisive as the other writers. Nonetheless, I shall endeavor to explain my point.

I guess what I may be trying to say is Govt’s need to set realistic expectations and achievable goals if they are to project online successfully.

That is to say, they may need to unlearn and possibly deconstruct many of their assumptions. For one, they should never expect the same outcome which they usually get in the real world. In the real world, if I may be permitted to speak freely?

They have been somewhat spoilt and a trifle complacent IMO. For one they have the entire apparatus of assimilation at their disposal to make sure everything goes their way in the real world. They can even confidently control the entire supply chain of actions and outcomes to get a win outcome in most cases, providing no one does a shawshank redemption enactment too often.

So it is fair to say, when they project online, they may even take these histories, experiences and learning outcomes with them and begin to draw straight lines and analogies? There lies the real danger.

I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect that same level of success here, not in the short term, at least. As there may be quite a serious split of thinking between how netizens and govt’s usually perceive, interpret and even make sense of their respective worlds.

I feel e-engagement should take stock that the game is played very differently here i.e Govts may even have to redefine their traditional or old thinking metrics of success and failure when dealing with the virtual community.

This may require them to jettison hard and using soft power instead to solicit compliance. Possibly even choosing which battles they should fight and retreat from. Instead of using a mechanistic approach of fighting everyone that comes their way in the name of correcting a lie or setting the record straight like Walter Woon. Or it may even mean letting some issues slide and strategically retreating only to come back another day. I don’t really know suhaw. But what I do know for certain this is not going to be something that can be accomplished within a short period of time or by just coming up with form without complimenting it with content.

Thank you for asking Suhaw.

Do convey my warmest reg to the rest of aims.

One day my plan is to have an open house and invite all of you and everyone in blogosphere to tour the FILB.

Reg

Y2K

Anonymous said...

Hello Red Bean,

"regulations or control, depending on how one views it, or how the authority administers it, is a very thin line. the more laws there are, the more opportunity to interpret the laws to one's advantage. i will avoid commenting on how this could be done in paradise. i will use the examples in msia.

the isa is a neutral law and was necessary during the anti communist era, depending on which side one is on. but look at how the isa is being abused just a few days back. and also how the police towed the govt's line and hide behind the isa to arrest innocent citizens."

Yes, I have to agree with you there on all counts.

The use of ISA was a big miscalculation and it seems the govt there is back tracking as fast as they can from the maelstrom.

However, I fear the damage has already been done and most of it regrettably was self inflicted.

Thank you for allowing me to post on your site.

It has been most enjoyable.

Reg

Y2K

Anonymous said...

"I don't think we should recommend that the authorities post their comments likewise, ie anonymously too. :-)"

How then can one develop an evil eye?

redbean said...

i believe the authorities will post with a name and not anonymous. that will defeat the whole purpose of engagement.

and thanks y2k. this forum is only as good as all the forumers posting here. i am very fortunate to have good forumers sharing their views in this blog.

we are getting more and more visitors by the days and from organisations. this speaks well on how we conduct our discussions here.

thanks everyone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Red Beer,

I also happen to believe our gahmen will clamp down on anon bloggers. They will certainly not endorse it by blogging anon. That one is 100%.

On the issue of anon. I would like to direct this question to the director general of the brotherhood library board.

Dont you think anon is bad? I hear alot of cases in EU and US, where anon bloggers used to bring down ppl. In one case a woman even impersonated a boy and cause the death of a young girl.

Just want to ask what's your take on this. Dont you think you ppl should support Mr Su Wah of AIMs to put an end to Anon post and blogs?

Jimmy Teh (Bukit Batok)

redbean said...

hi jimmy teh,

welcome to the blog.

anonymous posting will be a norm unless the authority makes an effort to trace them or ban blogs to simplify the effort.

other than those with mischievious intent, i think we should take on a nick to separate ourselves from anonymous. bloggers are resorting to remain anonymous for various reasons. but if we are saying reasonable things, we should have no fear.

i always stress the point that there is nothing wrong to disagree with one another or to disagree with govt policies or with ministers.

it is time that singaporeans speak out, take a stand. the liberalisation may be the first step to make people feel easier to do so.

use a nick first. gradually for those who are willing, they can use their own names. we need to cultivate this culture of speaking up, have a view and let our views be heard. and the authority should also grow up and accept that different people see things differently. i think they are changing and moving in this direction.

to disagree is not anti govt or against the country. it is the right of every citizen to disagree.

Anonymous said...

All reasonable men/ladies will subject/hold themselves responsible for their deeds.

So regulation or no regulation makes no difference.

If and should regulation is mean to suppress, intimidate and create fears, again it would not frighten the Reasonable People.

So, to the Responsible People, regulation or no regulation makes no difference. Live and let live!

patriot

redbean said...

agreea absolutely. just like in this forum, we do not need any rules to regulate anyone. there are goodness in beans.

Anonymous said...

Great discussion going on. Interesting and smart. Definitely, a thinking's man blog.

Only a few points. First. I don't believe govt should come in just to establish a competitive advantage in the political scene.

If they want to do that, then it may not be fair on the rest of netizens, as we dont want to see our play ground turned into some party political platform.

I personally felt they could have done a better job in explaining all this in their 130 page report.

Great discussion. I wished. I was here earlier to see it all.

:)

redbean said...

hi anonymous,

you are new here. welcome to share your views. this is the last frontier that is being at risk of being regulated.