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Cyberspace experience that is technically possible today, here with VR equipment from NASA

Cyberspace ( English cyber as short form for " cybernetics ", space "space, universe": cybernetic space, cyber space) describes in the narrower sense a concrete virtual world or virtual reality ("illusory world"), in the broader sense the totality of the spatial appearing generated by computers or designed operating , working , communication and experience environments. In its generalized meaning as a data space , cyberspace encompasses the entire Internet . The social sciences understand cyberspace as a “horizon of meaning generated by computer media” and as part of cyber society (see also cyber anthropology ).


The first serious formulation of the concept can be found as early as 1964 in Stanislaw Lem's Summa technologiae , in which the concept of cyberspace is described as peripheral phantoms . Another early representation can be found in Oswald Wiener's novel Die Improvement von Mitteleuropa from 1969, in the sections notes on the concept of the bio-adapter and appendix A. der bio-adapter .

In the short story True Names and Other Dangers (1987) Vernor Vinge took the ideas further. Its protagonists wander in a virtual world and interact with virtual objects. Some have formed groups and hide in separate parts called " walled gardens ".

Is literally of cyberspace until 1982 in the short story Burning Chrome the American science fiction -Autors William Gibson 's speech, the general for Cyberpunk - literature is counted. Gibson describes cyberspace as a consensual hallucination of computer-generated graphic space:

“Dodging up, and there it was, all the data in the world, close together like a single huge neon city, so that you could move around and have a certain access to them - at least visually, because otherwise it would be too complicated to access certain data to stalk the one you were looking for. "

- William Gibson : Mona Lisa Overdrive , Chapter 2

In his novels, people create cyberspace - which Gibson also calls the "matrix" - by connecting to networked computers via a neural interface. The complete immersion in cybernetic space described here seems to anticipate the immersion of virtual reality , as it was realized as computer technology for space simulation from the late 1980s. Jaron Lanier is generally referred to as a thought leader in virtual reality . A similar technology is called Metaversum by Neal Stephenson . The novel Der Birkenwald , published in 2008, uses cyberspace as the homomorphism of the spiritual world. The people trapped in cyberspace live in a virtual world, but here with the aim of illustrating the power of thought in people.

Colloquially , the expression cyberspace mostly served as a synonym for the Internet, especially the World Wide Web (WWW) , especially in the 1990s . However, research in technology and social sciences tends to distinguish the Internet and WWW as infrastructures from cyberspace. Cyberspace appears here as a virtualized spatial impression that has no topographical locality. In addition, cyberspace is understood in current social science research approaches as a "horizon of meaning generated by computer media". Whoever enters cyberspace, their social, factual, spatial and temporal perceptions are virtualized.

An important text on the legal conditions of such virtual spaces is the 1996 Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow , which called for freedom from control by national governments.

The television series Max Headroom played in the 1980s as well as the US animated film Tron as one of the first with the possibilities of virtual reality and virtual existences. In 1999 Andy and Larry Wachowski were extremely successful internationally with the film Matrix . The film eXistenZ from 1999 works with the possibilities of cyberspace and constantly opens up new virtual spaces for the viewer. Such virtual spaces can also be seen in the film Animatrix (for example in the Matriculated segment ).

Development of cybernetics and cyberspace

Cybernetics experienced a high phase from 1946 to 1953 at the world-famous Macy conferences . Important scientists such as Alan Turing , John von Neumann and Heinz von Foerster laid the foundations of modern computer technology here, as in the area of computer architecture , which are today a prerequisite for real cyberspace on computers.

Usually, cyberspace in real computer systems is associated with a virtual space generated by computer media, which is shown on the screen display of a computer system and is only spanned in the mental imagination by the axes of an additional coordinate system . The added coordinate system is only an aid that is used in computer graphic programming , but is usually not visible when the code is executed on the screen. If the objects in the virtual space are created according to plan, a horizon of meaning can be generated in the virtual space, with the help of which a virtual world is created which, in connection with the Internet, is given a special definition in the term Web3D .


After the media hype surrounding the virtual game Second Life , many others such as Secret City, There, Entropia, sMeet, StageSpace, Metaverse or Utopia emerged . The Second Life Talk (now AVAMEO) calls this Metaverses as Internet-based 3D infrastructure, or is it the speech of Web3D. In particular, the interplay of the terms fiction, reality, virtuality and cybernetics are dealt with here.

See also


  • Lutz Ellrich: The reality of virtual spaces. Sociological considerations for the "localization" of cyberspace. In: Rudolf Maresch, Niels Werber (Ed.): Space Knowledge Power. Frankfurt 2002, pp. 92-113.
  • Michael Featherstone, Roger Burrows: Cyberspace, Cyberbodies, Cyberpunk. Thousand Oakes, London 1995.
  • Jaron Lanier: What does “virtual reality” mean? An interview with Jaron Lanier. In: Manfred Waffender (Ed.): Cyberspace. Excursions into virtual realities. Reinbek 1991, pp. 67-87.
  • Udo Thiedeke: Cyberspace: The Matrix of Expectations. In: Derselbe (Ed.): Sociology of Cyberspace. Media, structures and semantics. Wiesbaden 2004, pp. 121-143.


  • Gillian Cross: Goodbye in cyberspace. dtv, 1994 (novel).
  • William Gibson: Neuromancer. New York, 1984 (novel).
  • Oswald Wiener: Notes on the concept of the bio-adapter and appendix A. the bio-adapter. In the same: the improvement of central europe, roman. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1969/1985, S. CXXXIV-CLIII and CLXXV-CLXXXIII.

Web links

Wiktionary: Cyberspace  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Andreas Mertens: A game becomes the 3D Internet. ( Memento of the original from May 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Avameo. SLTalk & Partner, Wiesbaden, October 15, 2007, accessed on May 14, 2014. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /