Introduction: Cyberspace and its Discontents
Issue #18, January 1995
Cyberspace is both the topic of this issue and its mode of production. As issue co-editors we worked online between the Silicon Valley and the Middle East. Thus this issue is the product of the same cooperative use of cyberspace that the new BS cyber-manifesto and the following articles discuss.
When we first entered into the project last spring, we conceived of this issue essentially as a collection of articles on cyberspace from a 'badsubjectian' perspective. What emerged instead was a lengthy process of online debate, rethinking, and writing. We discovered areas of agreement and disagreement; we discovered new perspectives and modified old ones.
The new Bad Subjects Manifesto on the Politics of Cyberspace emanates from this discussion. It was written collectively by the Bad Subjects Production Team. Several articles in this issue — essays by Joe Lockard, Annalee Newitz, Steve Rubio — were substantially motivated and shaped by a continuing flow of online exchanges about electronic politics. An article by Ed Korthof came from outside this discursive give-and-take at BS and indicates a pervasive desire for a sharp-sighted left critique of cyberspace.
What has become apparent is that a multiplicity of views exists about the nature of progressive political practice in cyberspace and where a 'badsubjectian' position might lead. This diversity of opinion makes the current issue more readable and interesting, and can only benefit our understanding.
The past couple months at the BS online discussion list have had their moments of difficulty. David Hawkes, a participant in the Great BS Flame War of 1994, has contributed an article on heated language in literature, cyberspace and contemporary politics. The Voices from the Collective section presents an online response from Cynthia Hoffman with a gendered analysis of flames.
Three articles by Mike Mosher, Avi Rosen and Joel Schalit explore how the Net is altering the possibilities for and forms available to human creativity by continuing overlooked or taken-for-granted traditions in contemporary art and computer science. As each of these articles indicates, cyberspace calls into question the prevailing economic fundamentals of art.
Our discussions of cyberspace and its narratives are not ending with this issue. The issue co-editors are following-up with a panel on 'Race, Ethnicity and Cyberspace,' co-sponsored by the Bad Subjects Collective, at the College Language Association annual conference at Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in April. If you're in the neighborhood, come along. As Bad Subjects and other progressive e-zines expand their online presence, it will be vital for all of us to continue these discussions of our online 'badsubjectivity.'