||The Internet is a common technology nowadays in our daily life. More and more people think it will soon replace traditional mass media and become the new age public forum. However, the cyberspace is not as open, free, and democratic as we may imagine. Actually more and more regulations and rules are imposed on it. But deviating behaviors such as conflicts, crimes, and violence did not decrease with all the regulations and rules. And the hierarchy of power and class did not disappear from the cyberspace as the internet utopians described. |
The researcher investigated one of the biggest and most popular virtual community in Taiwan, Gassiping Board in PTT Bulletin Board System, in particular regulation and power aspects, and tried to find out what is behind the regulations and how the collective behaviors of the users collide with the power of the administrators and the order of the board. Do they reflect any social value or internet culture? And what is the connection with the real world? With the idea of regulation in Lawrence Lessig’s book Code v2 and the concept of cyberpower, the researcher analysed the important changes and conflicts occurred on Gassiping Board.
Gassiping Board can be seen as a free speech market by Lessig’s concept, and the rules serving as laws, which give power to the administrators, along with the internet norms, regulate the behaviour of the users. By the code, the administrators can execute the rules. However, the common users have their own power given by the design of the code to rival the administrators, and they can even change the rules, the norms, and the free speech market of Gassiping Board. Also, some changing effects come from outside the virtual community, namely from the real world.
Although the administrators have superior power of technology, most of the time they are low in authority. It is hard for them to regulate all the users under the anti-control culture in the cyberspace. The users of Gassiping Board will gather all their powers when it is necessary, and will even destroy the order and overthrow the power of the administrators. However, this phenomenon indicates self-centredness and lack of respect to others, no matter if it is led by the common users or the administrators. Even though the internet is a modern technology product, in practice modern values such as the quality of democracy, law and order can not work with the internet users in making the virtual community a public sphere with both freedom and order.