Fisher Dana R. & Larry Michael Wright
On Utopias and Dystopias: Toward an Understanding of the Discourse Surrounding the Internet
In this paper, we contextualize some of the main issues of discussion regarding the Internet, describing these positions in terms of utopian and dystopian perspectives. By resurrecting William Ogburn’s theory of the cultural lag (1964), we present a framework for understanding the extreme responses to the technology. The lag suggests that the effects of a technology will not be apparent to social actors for some time after it is introduced to a society. As such, much of the discourse concerning the Internet is ideologically charged, filled as much with the hopes and fears of individual authors as with the reality of the medium’s effects.