Downs, Yvonne (2011) Muddy rules for cyberspace: Musings of a she-blogger. In: Gender and Education Conference (GEA) 2011, 27th-29th April 2011, University of Exeter, Exeter UK. (Unpublished)

‘Muddy rules for cyberspace’: Musings of a she-blogger.
Yvonne Downs
Although referring specifically to intellectual property rights, the above quotation from Burk (1998) gives a sense of the complex, emergent, often ambiguous terms on which we enter new digital spaces. In this paper I give an auto/biographical account of my experience of writing a blog for a number of months while doing research for my PhD. My account is located in the broader context of a consideration of ‘cyberspace’ and animates the contention that ‘(t)he new opportunities and constraints online interaction creates are double-edged, leading to results that can amplify both beneficial and noxious social processes’ (Kollock and Smith 1999, p.4). Whilst acknowledging that ‘cyberspace represents an exciting new medium which allows us to communicate, teach, learn and understand in ways never before imagined’ (Bryant 2001) I also ask whether the multiplicity, mystification and mythologizing of cyberspace (Mosco 2005) has diverted our attention away from the question of ‘what happens to gender when it goes through the hardware?’ (Arpiz 1999). Although I touch on the relationship of cyberspace and physical spaces, relating my specific and limited experience of blogging as a PhD student clearly cannot provide definitive answers or adequately theorise the complexity of cyberspace. My aim is rather to instantiate a method of ‘seeing with both eyes’ (materially and discursively) relations of power within new digital spaces.
Arpiz, L. 1999. Preface. In: Harcourt, W. (ed). Women@internet: creating new cultures in cyberspace. London: Zed Books, pp. xii - xvi
Bryant, R. 2001. What kind of space is cyberspace? Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy Vol. 5,. pp. 138 - 155. [Online]. Available at . [Accessed 8th November 2010].

Burk, D. 1998. Muddy rules for cyberspace. In: J. Mackie-Mason and D. Waterman (eds). Telephony, the internet and the media: selected papers from the 1997 telecommunications policy research conference, pp.197-214.

Kollock, P. and Smith, M. 1999. Communities in Cyberspace. In: P Kollock and M Smith (eds) Communities in Cyberspace. London: Routledge pp 3-25
Mosco, V. 2005 The digital sublime. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

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