Castells discusses the move of the global society from an industrial age to an informational age. Castells spends a lot of time discussing the transition to global capitalism and the power dynamics and hierarchies of the network that capitalism has put into place. However, he does note that “the hierarchy in the network is by no means assured or stable” (414). Castells also discusses the process in which the Internet came about, discussing ARPANET and the development of Silicon Valley.
Chapters 5-7 discussed varying topics such as mass communication/mass culture, space, and time within the new information age. Chapter 5 included a lot of historical information about new communication technologies like television, but also touched on newer phenomenon such as self-production of media (366-370), identity on the internet in games such as MUDs, and computer mediated communication. Chapter 6 focused on the space of flows, or rather how quickly information can be shared as well as shared between different physical spaces quickly through newer communication technologies. Chapter 7 focused on what Castells called timeless time, which he defined as a phenomenon in which newer technologies like bio-technologies and communication technologies are making it more difficult for us to have a biological sense of time.
Identity and MUDs
Chapter 5 was particularly interesting to me because it discussed the virtual communitities, which tied well with my OoS (not sure if this was purposeful in assigning this to me, but it worked out!). It was interesting to see that one of the first psychoanalytical studies of internet users was on a group of users of a MUD. I appreciated Wellman’s keypoint that “virtual communitites do no have to be opposed to physical communities: they are different forms of community, with specific rules and dynamics, which interact with other forms of community” (387). I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at more recent work on virtual communitities, but it does seem that they are moving away from an initial argument, which was that they were just easy escapes. As a game player, I’m often tied to multiple communities, both virtual and physical. I’ve also found a lot of great friends that I’ve become close to through virtual communities. Particularly in multiplayer online games, players act within several virtual communities simulataneously. For instance, players are within the large community of players within a particular game, but players also likely have a friends list that acts as a network of friends that they often do things with, as well as many players are part of a guild. The guild functions as a social community where members get to know each other and do activities like raiding and player versus player battlegrounds. The layers of social networks even in a singular game I think really speaks to the layering of networks that Castells discusses throughout the book.