| Each of us is given, as a conception day present, in the zygote formed when the sperm of our father penetrates the ovum of our mother, the vast body of information which our species has accumulated over billions of years of survival on our planet. Each of us adds ontogenetic information to this phylogenetic information during our individual lifetimes. This information is added by means of the extragenetic and extrasomatic tools for the storage and transmission of information, described above as four generations of media. Education could be considered as this process of supplementing phylogenetic information, acquired during the evolution from animal to human, with ontogenetic information, acquired during the evolution from child to adult. Communication studies could be considered as the study of those generations of media and, hence, as the central discipline within the academy.|
Although virtual reality/cyberspace is the natural domain of communication studies, we have been slow to move into it. Communication studies formally entering the field only last year with the publication of a special issue, Virtual Reality: A Communication Perspective in the official journal of the International Communication Association (Journal of Communication, 1992). The vacuum is being filled by scholars from other disciplines - from architecture, from engineering, from journalism, from literary studies, from philosophy, from political science, and so on. The variety of disciplines represented is an indicator of how widespread the reverberations and repercussions of this development are. However, there is a danger that, in becoming everything, it becomes nothing. The ubiquitous is paradoxically elusive. The fish will be last to discover water.
The remainder of this paper is an attempt to centre virtual reality/cyberspace firmly within the discipline of communication studies. It presents four concepts, with their correlated concerns, as challenges to communication studies.
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