Cyber-Cemeteries

Two years ago I attended a seminar on the topic “The Media-lized Death”: Here we discussed not only the depiction of death in TV/movies, but also new forms of remembrance in the world wide web. On so-called online cemeteries people developed alternative forms of creating permanent memorials for their lost relatives or friends, respectively. These sites emerged  very early – some are more than 14 years old.

By using written texts (e.g. poems), pictures, audio files etc. users produce individualized burial grounds. The different forms of text often merge into multimedial-based “gravestones”. Furthermore, they connect and share their feelings with others – sometimes complete strangers. The anonymity of the internet seems thereby to stimulate communication, though mourning a lost person is actually a very personal issue. There are many similarities to a wide range of other issues, on which online identities are much more revealing than in their “offline” existences (e.g. sexuality, health). I just thought this might be another interesting aspect of life and culture which found its way into cyberspace. As usual, here  some examples:

Worldwide Cemetry

RIP Rest in Peace

InMemoryOf

Cyber cemetery goes online (BBC, 07/01/00)

An examination of these digital forms of remembrance could highlight for instance communication patterns, techniques and forms of digital mourning or the translation (and transformation) of cultural rites via new media.

Cyberwarfare – Some Current Examples

If you have no idea what cyberwar/warfare is, take a look at one of the following articles – they focus some interesting current examples:

China accuses US of online warfare in Iran (Guardian, 24/01/10)

Cyber warfare ‘now reality’ (Telegraph, 19/11/09)

NATO’s Cyber Defence Warriors (BBC, 03/02/09)

China ‘using Cyberwarfare to Challenge US  Power’ (Telegraph, 21/11/08 )

Estonia hit by “Moscow Cyber War” (BBC, 17/05/07)

Generally spoken, Cyberwarfare describes a wide range of aggressive actions using and simultaneously targeting new media. Possible targets can be mere websites as well as computers managing sensitive data, stock exchange, controlling traffic or the like. Furthermore, it can occur on different “levels”, i.e. there seems to be  a distinction between attacks on personal websites (personal context), the sabotage of governmental computers (political context) and the deprivation / destruction of information on corporation data bases (economical context). Techniques of choice would be for instance destructive programs like viruses or “hacking”. Information warfare is an often used synonym. Another related term would be Cyberterrorism. See for more definitions PCMAG.com or Psycom.net.

Cyberracism, Neo Fascism in the Internet – the Dark Sides of “Free Information”?

During my research for M91MC I found some interesting pages about less acceptable / more problematic aspects of modern media culture or free information in the internet, respectively: Cyberracism and “Cyberfascism“. The last term shall describe neofascist activities in the world wide web. I am thinking about doing some more research on this topic and possibly to write about it. I would like to know what experiences and knowledge you have about these issues.

http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/cyberracism/examples.html

http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/articles/online_hate/fascist_recruitment.cfm

http://www.adl.org/Braun/dim_13_1_neonazism.asp

Another interesting and similar topic could be Cyberjihad – probably all those phenomena share the same basic mechanisms in terms of (pejorative) identity construction, propaganda / PR etc.

Making a start…

…is often the most difficult part; but once it is done, things mostly carry on quiet smoothly. Hopefully the same applies for this blog. It was created in the context of the module “Information Societies” in the second term of the MA course in Communication, Culture & Media at Coventry University.

Here we can discuss practical examples as well as theoretical approaches on contemporary media (-culture,- society, etc.). Furthermore, this blog may serve as a forum for exchanging experiences in the media sector or academia, respectively.

However, if I have understood the instructions of our tutors today correctly, this blog may also transform into a “publication platform” for the coursework by combining academic writing with the crossmedial possibilities of the World Wide Web.