Nattering on the Net

Nattering on the Net: Women, Power, and Cybersapce

Dale Spender
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 278
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttm35
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  • Book Info
    Nattering on the Net
    Book Description:

    Dale Spender promises to change the way we think about computers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0276-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Dale Spender
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)

    This is not a book about computers. It is a book about people. It’s about the impact that computers are having on human society. The reason for this focus is that who we are, what we know, and how we think, are all being changed as we move from a printbased society to a computer-based world. We are becoming different people; we are creating a new community.

    So far, there has been little discussion about this cyber-community and how it affects us. Most of the talk has been in relation to the technology; the marvels of the “chip”, the power...

  5. 1 Print
    (pp. 1-30)

    The printing press changed the course of human history. It produced an information revolution. It changed what human beings know, and how we think. This is why print is such a valuable starting point for understanding the views and values of our contemporary community. And in examining some of the changes that took place with the introduction of print, we can also see the parallels with the changes that are taking place with the current information revolution: it too is altering the course of human history.

    Before print, there were manuscripts. They were the information medium of the Middle Ages....

  6. 2 The Claims of Literature
    (pp. 31-44)

    The standardisation that went with print wasn’t limited to typeface or spelling or grammar: literature has also had its share of rules and regulations, despite its reputation for creativity and imagination. The idea of a literary canon – a list of what is in and what is out of the great tradition – points to the way literature has been divided into the good and the bad, the norm and the deficient. (“Canon” by the way, is defined by theShorter Oxford English Dictionaryas “a standard of judgement” and “the list of books ... accepted as genuine and inspired”.)

    Of course,...

  7. 3 Readers
    (pp. 45-66)

    Before the printing press and the book made their appearance, only a very few people were readers: the priests and the princes.

    Nearly all the manuscripts that they read were in Latin, so it was pretty easy to ensure that “the word” could be kept in the right hands. Even if they did manage to learn to read, the masses wouldn’t be able to make sense of the Latin code.

    Not that it was likely that anyone outside the elite would become literate. Reading was considered a difficult skill to acquire; you had to have special talent and then be...

  8. 4 Authors
    (pp. 67-98)

    Authors as we know them are a recent invention. Prior to the printing press, writing was all about copying: good writers were those (with, presumably, a “good and uniform hand”) who could copyexactlythe manuscript in front of them. Accuracy was valued above all and writers were paid copy money for their efforts, which were circulated among priests, princes, and a few professionals.

    Obviously, in this process there was no place for anyone to come up with ideas their own. Scribes who made any changes or additions were not praised for their originality; on the contrary, the termcorruption...

  9. 5 Education
    (pp. 99-146)

    As the description of Cyberion City (Chapter 4) indicates, if not today, then in a very short space of time, students won’t need to go to school or college for information.

    We might be getting used to the idea that educational institutions don’t need a physical place called a library (all they need is electronic access to a library, or database): but how open are we to the idea that we don’t need a physical place called a school, a college or a university? That all that will be required is for students to have access to databases?

    To some...

  10. 6 Libraries
    (pp. 147-160)

    Last century, state libraries were established in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and other countries, with the express purpose of providing the public with information. On the grounds that everyone needed to have access to books, but that not everyone could afford to purchase them, the public library system assumed the responsibility of buying books for the community and distributing them.

    The system has to be rated as a huge success. There are countless tales of scholars and specialists in all sorts of areas who acknowledge that it was the public library which gave them their start in...

  11. 7 Women, Power and Cyberspace
    (pp. 161-248)

    Looking back, we can see that in many ways, women were worse off after the print revolution than they had been in the manuscript era. (Women have often been worse off after a revolution. The French Revolution, for example, promised liberty and equality, but women were excluded from the fraternity and they lost out when it came to property and education.)

    Given our history, it’s not possible to assume that women will automatically share equally in any gains that come from the present information revolution. Women were excluded from the process of knowledge-making when the printing press was invented; and...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 249-260)

    Cyberspace might be a virtual creation, but it is a reality that is here to stay. And my attitude towards it is pragmatic.

    Given that I have to learn to live with the cyberworld, I want the best possible outcome that can be realised. This means that I want to be involved – along with countless others – in the decision-making process of shaping the information infrastructure. I want national forums set up, public discussions organised, working parties created to determine priorities. I want some indication that there are plans to use the technology to improve the quality of life for all...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-270)
  14. Index
    (pp. 271-278)