The process of redefining freedom, equality, self-government and property for the technological age and Cyberspace is and has been for more than a decade a salient and prominent concern for both the residents of Cyberspace and the “Governments of the Industrial World” (Barlow, 1996). Barlow’s impassioned and somewhat naive ‘Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace‘ states that the world of Cyberspace is “without…prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.” (Barlow, 1996).
Whilst this idealistic statement may be partially true in regards to the fact that when participating in online activities factors such as race, gender and station of birth are not overtly on display. However, access to the internet is severely limited in some areas around the world namely Nicaragua, Pakistan and Africa in general. In addition to this up until recently domain names were only available in English whilst it is estimated that more than 45% of Cyberspaces content is in languages other than English.
Even on the self-proclaimed Rules of the Internet sexism and racism are noticeably present, but so is self government and social contracts. “-∞+1. Rules are meant to be broken! Rules of the internet are not meant to be!” this one rule to me sums up the proposed rules of the internet, however, I doubt this was the utopia that Barlow imagined, however, all sentiments from the “debasing to the angelic”(Barlow, 1996), must be allowed as a part of the global conversation.
Barlow may have imagined a world free from the constraints of flesh and steel but can a utopian Cyberspace really coexist with global inequality and prejudice.
Barlow, J.P. 1996, ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’