Science writer Margaret Wertheim suggests in The Pearly Gates of CyberSpace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet that cyberspace has become for some a technological substitute for the heaven of Christian aspiration. “The Heavenly City of the New Jerusalem was the great promise of early Christianity,” she writes.
"There is no There there,” said Gertrude Stein about Oakland, California. “There is a different there there,” say I, an Oaklandite by birth, about virtuality. “Virtual” presence differs from “real” presence in propinquity—time, place and relationship—as well as vividness and interactivity.
On a recent trip to the University of Notre Dame to speak at a conference on “Religion, Spirituality and Business,” I stopped at a toll-road fast-food, fast-fuel station. A theme of my address was to be that “the market has won,” that it is all-enveloping, all-embracing, intrusive, unavoidable.
Writer Jon Katz recently said that news coverage of the Internet lurches “from one extreme to the other.” Either the Net is “a dread menace or it’s a Utopian vision.” Journalism, he concluded, “has been asleep at the switches,” because the Net is “not simply a story about technology, but it’s a revolutionary change in the society and culture.” As a result, journalism “is in the sad position of