Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What is Cyberspace?

Illustration courtesy of Brain Waves, LLC.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the words and pictures on posts and letters when you enter them into your computer and press send?

I can understand where money goes when you order something online. Some sort of electronic brain adds you to a list; then a person then puts the item in a box with your address and ships it to you. (Or are boxing and labeling done by machines now?) Do you ever wonder why there's not more mistakes. For instance, you ordering a book on automobile repairs and get a used DVD of old Lawrence Welk shows?

The electronic "stores" zap the money out of your account into their account. Simple.

Banking on line is getting more amazing than that. We can actually deposit checks from our computers and our cell phones.

So you send an image of your check. This picture of your check enables your bank's computers to zap money out the other guys bank into your account. It seems fool-proof, right? George Doe won't be able to zap your deposit into his off shore Cayman account. Unless he has a smarter computer than your bank. It's just a matter of time. Hopefully the rate of technological change will stay one step ahead of him.

However, I do wonder what money really is if it isn't wrinkled green pieces of paper and little round disks with dead politicians' pictures on them.

Where does information fed into computers actually go? When I click publish on my blog and turn off my computer where are the words stored? Someplace in computerized warehouse with humongous storage bins of electronic drawers? Or does it just linger in the air between your computer and other peoples computers?

Just where is facebook really? Where is blogspot? And where the hell are Amazon and Netflix? Are they buildings, people or are they just a gigantic brain called world wide web?

Many stores can send movies and e-book instantly to our computers, TVs, and other amazing electronic devices like Wii and Kindle. Where ARE these e-books and movies before someone zaps them to you (and zaps away your money?) At least you can see books on a shelf at the bookstore or movies projected on a screen at the theater.

When televisions and phones were invented, we had an idea where the pictures and sounds came from. Much like light coming out of incandescent light bulbs, it was wires coming out of walls and strung on electric & telephone poles that connected us to the outside world. Right?

Then we found out that televion and radio waves are traveling invisibly through the air in each and every direction. (Air's oxygen and other elements, thank God.) THen again, have you alwasy wondered, along with me, whether these waves go around us or straight through us as they make their way to a receiver?

If anyone has a clue let me know what cyberspace is and more inportantly where it is. Surely it's more than just a concept?

Try not to wonder too much. Computers do most of everything for us, why not let them do it?


Dymondkat said...

My take: Money is a form of energy. We did something to make the money (worked at a job) and we just have an energy number of what that something was. Physical money is also just a symbol of what we have created as group consensus around a meaning of that dollar bill. It really is just paper with a group consensus regarding the amount of energy it is worth.

Facebook is located down the street from me in a real building. All of their data is stored on huge machine servers at some discrete location. Same with Amazon and Netflix. Ebay is down the street from me in San Jose. That information is actually stored SOMEWHERE in a physical building with lots of memory cards/chips.

Love, Abigail

Sandy Schairer said...

So, money is symbolic and cyberspace is real. Cool.