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MS 168 M L Monreal Cyberspace Revolution or Hegemony Homo sapiens are incredibly complex Our evolution is the result of a series of biological changes with the utmost capability of adapting to a vast range of environments Yet this biological evolution intertwines with a complex cultural evolution This cultural evolution enabled our species to develop the most advanced culture of all animal species in the planet s history Therefore to study humans we must take into consideration both our biological as well as our cultural evolution The following is an analysis of the way that technology impacted our human evolution The complexity of culture can be a difficult concept to grasp In the history of humanity we have undergone two major revolutions which radically changed our culture The first was the Neolithic revolution approximately 10 000 years ago where the way of life and ideology changed completely Prior to this period of time humans lived as hunters and gatherers in balance with the population density and the amount of resources though some would argue that foragers drove many animals to extinction e g driving herds off a cliff A surplus of food allowed sedentary lifestyle and labor specialization which in turn resulted in technological advancements The second major revolution took place about 300 years ago in what historians call the industrial revolution This revolution caused the most drastic changes within our culture The industrial revolution gave rise to consumption of goods and services based on desire regardless of actual need Advertising and marketing turned former citizens into consumers and production and waste attained levels never seen before In the first half of the 20th century humans used more resources than in the entire 100 000 years of the existence of our species Earth and the American Dream 2004 1 MS 168 M L Monreal Today we are in the middle of a third revolution what Lev Manovich calls the new media revolution 2001 He explains how the new media revolution is the shift of all culture to computer mediated forms of production distribution and communication This new revolution is arguably more profound than the previous ones and we are just beginning to register its initial effects 2001 19 The media and cyberspace have generated drastic changes in the way we operate the way people communicate shop pay bills travel and even fix appliances Walter Ong 1988 explores the impact of script on the new media revolution in his analysis of orality and literacy He explores the interaction of orality and literacy in the various stages of evolution which can provide a frame of reference for understanding the steps towards a more complex cultural evolution one in which writing and electronic culture culminate in the most advanced stage in our history In an effort to understand the complexity of this cyberspace revolution several aspects must be analyzed One is the functionality of the web and how humans depend on technology today The second centers on social relations which heretofore have been framed by the hegemonic practices of Europeans who constructed a hierarchical system of classification based on the term race Race is based on questionable and unscientific biological traits such as skin color and produces serious cultural implications Most anthropologists as well as the American Anthropology Association state that while race is a biological fallacy it remains a cultural reality As stated by Omi and Winant the concept of race continues to play a fundamental role in structuring and representing the social world Thus we should think of race as an element of social structure we should see race as a dimension of human representation rather than an illusion 1994 55 Race therefore takes on a social and cultural dimension in the way people are represented in society and in the way people identify themselves Additionally race has been 2 MS 168 M L Monreal historically manipulated by those in power to maintain their power and oppress those deemed racially inferior One of the questions this analysis pursues is how race plays a role in cyberspace Can the Internet help promote global social justice and equality and eradicate racism The internet s openness of inquiry and vastness of resources offers the possibility for social awareness to be spread and for the formation of advocacy communities Maya Angelou states that racism is based on ignorance therefore using the internet as an educational tool we can promote more tolerance One group which has taken the burden of pursuing social justice via cyberspace is the Zapatistas of Chiapas also known as the EZLN Zapatista National Liberation Army The Zapatistas successfully recruit and appeal to an international community to pressure the Mexican government to meet their demands The Zapatistas use the Internet to expose many human and indigenous rights violations by various hegemonic groups in Mexico In so doing they have successfully lowered the number of attacks The case study of the Zapatistas exemplify ways that cyberspace offers possibilities for democracy and social change Functionality of Cyberspace To understand the functional aspects of the Internet we must first define functionality Functionalism refers to a cultural aspect which meets the needs of the individual and society as a whole Nanda 2008 Efficiency speed user autonomy and ability to acquire vast amounts of information are functional aspects of the Internet In his book Understanding Media the Extensions of Man Marshall McLuhan 1994 explains the way media becomes an extension of ourselves It is not the media per se but what is done with it the way we interact with the media McLuhan further promotes the development of integral awareness through the use of the media Ultimately McLuhan explains that there is no way of getting outside of mediation our goal 3 MS 168 M L Monreal should be to understand the way this mediation operates and how we operate within it McLuhan sees technological media as staples or natural resources which societies are dependent on In this sense technological media transcends its social dimension to a key economic dimension By so doing in terms of functionality it becomes a commodity for exchange Media is now an economic dimension which is visible in the commodity exchange over the internet i e online shopping Yet by understanding the way that mediation functions in society we can reclaim the media for individual power This paper will later show the

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