Comment le réseau vint aux hommes
La virtualité est ailleurs
The term «virtual», principally used in the early '90s to describe experiments conducted under the rubric of «virtual reality», has increasingly been applied to the Internet as a whole and networks in general. However, on closer analysis it appears that these phenomena, all qualified as «virtual», rely on very different representational logics. While virtual reality attempts to reinscribe the human body in a new experiential space, networks, as the history of this term demonstrates, produce an effect of disincarnation, represented by the notion of the purely cerebral person for whom the body is a handicap that limits the free circulation of information. The network is thus a disembodied representation, not a simulation of the social, contrary to Baudrillard's definition. It would appear that as long as we exist in and through material bodies, virtual reality will not replace the real.
Institut d'anthropologie et de sociologie, BFSH 2, Université de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne,