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Cyberspace refers to everything that exists on or between computer networks.
The word was coined by writer William Gibson in his novel, Neuromancer, to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks. Cyberspace has since become synonymous with the Internet, defining a virtual world where all electronic data resides.
Whether chatting with your friends, sharing a moment on Facebook, video conferencing with colleagues, or immersing yourself in a massively multiplayer online game, you are interacting with others in cyberspace. In reality, you are simply asking for your computer or mobile device to contact to a web server and upload or download information, but the idea of cyberspace gives physical dimensions to the otherwise intangible concept of binary data flowing back and forth across cable and telephone lines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where does cyberspace actually exist?
Most online activity exists somewhere on a remote server. Every website you visit is hosted on a server. Large hosting companies house hundreds or even thousands of servers in massive facilities specially designed for storing and maintaining a large number of computer systems. When you visit a website, your computer reaches out to that server and asks for the most recent copy of the page. The server sends that information back to your computer. Cyberspace is anywhere that data had to travel, so in this scenario it means the server, your computer, your Internet Service Provider, and all the equipment in between.
Is cyberspace a physical space?
Yes and no. Cyberspace is not a physical space in the sense that you can reach out and touch it, and you won’t ever get sucked into cyberspace and forced to race virtual motorcycles like in Tron. However, all computer data has to be stored somewhere, so in another sense, there is a physical cyberspace. It’s the physical hard drive in servers, the thin strips of wires that connect your computer to your modem and your ISP, the airwaves that wireless data travels to reach a router or the nearest cell tower, and the physical memory on your computer of phone.