The concept of space is, like the others addressed in previous issues of M/C, one endowed with such an aura of simplicity that its complexity is often overshadowed. Words like 'new', 'memory', 'identity', and 'space' are used so often and in so many different contexts that it becomes difficult to ascribe them a fixed, singular meaning. This implies that these words -- and there are plenty of others that M/C plans to investigate in the future -- create concepts which are potentially, and perhaps inevitably, quite heterogeneous. When it becomes unclear what the word 'space' means, for example, it becomes unclear what 'space' is.
The articles in this issue of M/C are unified in their attempts to understand, or initiate an understanding of, space, a concept that often intersects sharply with new media forms, such as the Internet, which vividly force users to confront the implications of space's experiential nature. Adam Dodd's article, "The Truth Is Over There", notes the cultural forces which shape and negotiate conceptualisations of space, relating some contemporary findings of quantum physics with the ancient, philosophical paradoxes of Zeno, and asking whether the apparent phenomenon of distance can be said to exist independently of observers.
Felicity Meakins' "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" discusses the linguistic methods used to 'distance the dead', and the role of ceremony in this process, subtly revealing the arbitrary nature of the idea that the dead are 'somewhere else'.
Axel Bruns visits "The n-Dimensional Village", and whilst there investigates the use of spatial metaphor in the negotiation of the Internet experience, looking at the restrictions of popular terms such as 'cyberspace', which endow a nonspatial experience with spatial qualities. Like Meakins, he uncovers another instance in which spatial experience is created before it is experienced or conceptualised.
Lara Cain considers some practical consequences of the reorganisation of space that electronic publishing allows in her piece "What the Hell is a Tim Tam?", examining implications for texts' meaning in readerships well outside the point of the text's origin, principally localised Australian novels which contain specific cultural references.
Sherry Mayo tampers with some pre-millennium ontological anxiety in "NXT Space for Visual Thinking", asking if we can determine our point in time and space at this moment of pre-millennium anticipation, and hinting at the irony of the loop that consensual measurements of time and space often produce: for example, the organisation of a 'millennium' has produced a unique cultural atmosphere which in turn alters that of which it is a product and against which it reacts. Mayo suggests that "NXT space", cyberspace, is the most vital space for visual thinking in the 21st century.
Our feature article for this issue, "Of Cyber Spaces: The Internet and Heterotopias" by Sherman Young, initiates a Foucauldian understanding of culture and its relationship with the Internet through the concept of 'heterotopias', which "create a space of illusion that reveals how all of space is more illusory". This concept allows us to usefully explore the Internet as a heterotopic space.
As usual, an apparently mundane concept -- 'space' -- becomes one of considerable depth and relevance under closer examination. And as usual, M/C suggests that rare forums such as this one shouldn't be the only 'spaces' in which such examinations are undertaken. We hope you're stimulated by, and enjoy, the latest issue of M/C.