All boundaries, we are told, that once separated man from man are collapsing. Politics, that dreaded word, seems to have almost nothing to do with this and seems powerless to do anything to stop it. We are entering a new era – a brave new world – of the cyber age. How delightful!
The question I ask is how much truth is there in this picture? Is the cyberworld truly so liberating? Is the cyber age truly a harbinger of a new era of human association and equality? Is cyber space truly without any boundaries?
The short answer is it has the possibility to be all these things but lacks probability. Why? One truism that critical geographers never tire of repeating – space matters. Where you are located determines the possibilities of your life. The truth is that all these possibilities in cyber space are only possible is, first and foremost, you have access to that space. How many global citizens do? Second, the quality of that access matters so significantly. Any time and all the time? At home or across the street? In the city or in the village? In the apartment or in the hovel? For the educated or for the unfortunate? Education is a crucial determinant. Even for the otherwise educated computer literacy is hard to come by. Even then, the level of proficiency determines your ability to move about in cyber space. This ranges from someone who can barely google to a member of Anonymous. It determines what sites you visit, what in-groups you belong to, how your social network profile looks to others. In sum, your identity in cyber space.
The truth is that the cyber world, like the real world, has a hierarchy of boundaries. We are a long way away from a boundary-free world.