Groups, institutions, discourses, communities, cults, lifestyles, aesthetics, subcultures, ideologies: Systems of Meaning
Secession is the rule in virtual space. The Protestant principle rules: Set up your own place and community if you don't like ours. No conversation is obligatory. There is no scarcity of virtual "land" to prevent an endless exfoliation of new communities. Because there's always more room, there is no forced proximity demanding that you overhear the neighbors or meet them on the street. Communities can fraction, break off and each fill their own space. Some may be overlapping but many move out of contact. It's happening with magazines and cable channels as well. Segment the agora.
Yet even with that separation, you can't avoid politics and economics, because there are always some scarce resources. I may not have to see your virtual world or overhear your community conversation, but we all share concerns about the capacity of Internet connections and the state of computer equipment. Real world scarcities can force debate among separated virtual communities.
Discourse is not a synonym for language. Discourse does not refer to linguistic or signifying systems, grammars, speech acts, or conversations. To think of discourse as mere spoken or written words forming descriptive statements is to enact the mistake of representationalist thinking. Dis- course is not what is said; it is that which constrains and enables what can be said. Discursive practices define what counts as meaningful state- ments. Statements are not the mere utterances of the originating con- sciousness of a unified subject; rather, statements and subjects emerge from a field of possibilities. This field of possibilities is not static or singular but rather is a dynamic and contingent multiplicity.