CYBERVILLE by Stacy Horn


Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town
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 A fresh look at cyberspace from an entrepreneur's point of view that removes the tech talk and looks instead at community-building. Horn gives us a line to the online village she founded, Echo, based in New York and which she describes as a ``bizarro Our Town.'' Echo and its clientele (the ``Echoids'') engage in a noble experiment of discovering the differences between human intercourse in a virtual community and in an actual community. Their conclusion is that personal relationships follow the same pattern in both arenas, but the nature of the communal response to various events is different. As Horn debates the issue of how much free speech she should allow as some Echoids react to others who engage in harassment or prejudicial statements, the reader is reminded of local, state, and national struggles over the same issues. And though Horn includes the obligatory chapter on cybersex, she takes a fresh point of view, giving her own personal experiences along with those of three couples who met through Echo. Again, the conclusion is that relationships in cyberspace follow the same patterns as those in ``real life.'' What truly distinguishes Cyberville, however, is both Horn's disarmingly candid tone (in the section on on how she reluctantly sets rules for Echo, her stated opinion is ``Fuck rules'') and the use of the words and thoughts of the Echoids themselves, in an ongoing forum interspersed throughout the book called ``I Hate Myself.'' She uses a poll of Echo members on different issues to introduce each chapter and, most impressively, to illustrate how her ``online town'' reacted to the O.J. Simpson white Bronco car chase. The conclusion reached here is that computer culture--which allows people from all over the country to exchange reactions at once--is revolutionizing the way people react to human drama. That Horn is able to capture this conclusion in this scene and throughout Cyberville is a testament to the book's strength. (First serial to Self)

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1998
ISBN: 0-446-51909-X
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997


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