According to my series, the next article is ‘digital culture’. I am aware that I already wrote a similar article on ‘Common Cyber Culture’ but this one – even based on it – will be slightly different.
So, do we have a common cyber culture? I am not sure. I feel like a part of my personal culture is closely intertwined with what I experienced in cyberspace. If I meet other people with a similar relation to the cyberspace we might indeed have a common culture built on what we experienced in cyberspace. However, there are also a lot of people who only use the Internet as a tool and do not do or want to understand the Internet as a social environment. They might log in for the past ten years but never cared about what happened in cyberspace. They were never part of a social or cyber circle of people who share particular events and happenings. If, for example, a popular underground website turns out to be government controlled my instant messenger would tell me that within a short period of time. A lot of other people would never be aware of it if as long as their favorite news site (most likely their email portal) would not feature it.
Briefly: There is a thing called common cyber culture but it is exclusive. Not everyone who is on the Internet is at the same time in cyberspace and part of this culture.
The above has been my conclusion in the earlier article. However, it does more focus on the culture as a link and not the culture as something inherent to the cyberspace at all. I could briefly conclude what I mean as ‘netiquette’. It is basically the how-to-behave in cyberspace and does not exclusively work for a group of people or geeks, it is for all entities on cyberspace.
For the sake of the argument, let us say you are new on the net and you try to solve a computer problem. Without much of a knowledge you just google your problem, find a forum, create an account and post your problem.
A dummy response post might be:
‘did you already search the faqs? If it’s not there, use the search function. I am pretty sure someone stumbled upon this problem in this past two months. Oh wait, I just did all the work and looked it up in the readme.txt. Sorry noob but rtfm!’
The frequent asked questions and (read) the (fucking) manual can realy help you. It is only polite to use this means to save others work. If you posted your problem and find a solution, never just post ‘ok, got it’. A lot of people might encounter the some problem. For them it is easier if you just post HOW you solved the problem.
This is the digital culture. This is how you have to behave. Of course no one can make you obey these rules but they are and have been inherent to the net for a long time – for good reasons.
Same thing about your personal life. Talking about personal stuff via instant messenger or chat is much more likely on the net than in real life. This has a lot of reasons but it is fact and might also stand an empirical study. Entrusting people you do not know with your darkest secrets is also inherent to the digital culture.
These are just two examples and I hope you get my point. While the first one might have similar representations in non-digital life, the second one is unique. Culture in cyberspace is different. The digital culture follows certain rules and they are not the real life rules.