Hello World: Travels in Virtuality

Sue Thomas

 'Hello World' is the story of a life online. Part travelogue, part memoir, Sue Thomas draws on her online travels as well as her physical journeys in the USA, Australia, Spain and England. While the book is non-fiction, it is a direct descendent of 'Correspondence', Thomas’ extraordinary novel that also deals with the synergies between digital and physical worlds. Like its fictional counterpart, Hello World will trigger feelings in readers of recognition and will stimulate debate on the nature of the physical in a wired world for years to come. First published in 2004.'This is a book about a love affair. It's also a meditation on a phenomenon that has changed not just our lives but our perceptions of ourselves.' The Independent.

'...an essential tour guide to the poetics of time, space and gender in the Information Age. This book is quite simply a Baedeker to the cyber-realm.' Carolyn Guertin.

'...engagingly and warmly written, 'Hello World' combines first-person meditations with a wealth of information. Highly recommended for first-time users and those who want to try dipping their toes into the cyberwaters.' N. Katherine Hayles.

'...embracing digital media for its freedom and life beyond the physical page, her writings fuse the surfaces, textures, histories and interactions of our bodies and minds.' Robin Rimbaud / Scanner.

'Sue Thomas is one of the most innovation thinkers, promoters and facilitators on the web.' Stelarc.

'...anyone who feels both seduced and appalled by the complexities of embedded technology will empathise with this account of the personal highs and lows of an intimate relationship with technology.' Jenny Wolmark.

'Speaking with ease and authority, earned through years of immersive investigation, Sue Thomas critiques virtuality in a manner which makes this book accessible to those who are new to the networked world, as well as a must-read for those already there.' Melinda Rackham.

'Hello World is fascinating, almost hypnotic. Thomas travels all over the physical world, and all over the virtual world, visiting sights and sites of intrinsic and historical interest. She describes what she sees, tells us how the experience affects her, and recounts how past travelers have marked these conceptual landscapes. Thomas invokes Thoreau throughout the book, and the comparison is apt: As Thoreau's observations of the activity around Walden Pond always told us as much about him as they did about the nature he studied, so, too, Thomas's observations reveal much about herself. The intensity of her love for cyberspace is manifest in her attentiveness to the detail of each virtual experience.' Tekka.

'Thomas offers a way of being in the world that refuses hierarchies and primacies and offers us a model of an engaged and creative practice that is both virtual and real.' RealTime.

'As a mix it's intense and entrancing, and it demonstrates the ease with which computers, electronic communications, and lives all intertwine beyond the home.' Alan Sondheim.

Originally published in paperback by Raw Nerve Books.
Web Supplement http://travelsinvirtuality.typepad.com/helloworld/
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About the author

Sue Thomas was born in England in 1951. Both her parents were Dutch but made their home in the UK. Her most recent book is Technobiophilia: nature and cyberspace (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). Other books include the novel Correspondence, a mix of flesh and machine short-listed for several prizes including the Arthur C Clarke Award (London: The Women's Press, 1992; New York: Overlook, 1993); Water, a novel of fluids, imaginations and passions (New York: Overlook, 1994; UK: Five Leaves, 1995) and an edited anthology Wild Women: Contemporary Short Stories By Women Celebrating Women (New York: Overlook, 1994; London: Vintage, 1994). www.suethomas.net 

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Sue Thomas
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Published on
Mar 10, 2004
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Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Computers / Social Aspects / Human-Computer Interaction
Travel / Special Interest / General
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Organised around the themes Home and Abroad, Performative Traffic, and Image, Circulation, Mobility, Victorian Traffic: Identity, Performance, Exchange variously addresses the cultural dimensions of traffic in the long Victorian period: cross-cultural experience; colonial and racial imaginaries; everyday, literary, autobiographical and professional stagings of identity; and trade in metaphors, communications, texts, images, celebrity, character types, and quilts.

The concept of traffic underpins historical interpretation and theoretical formulations, and the rhetorics of trade in Victorian usage are contextualised. Understandings of identity emphasise the performative and the negotiation of agency in relation to social and cultural scriptings of gender, class, ethnicity and community. The essays have a wide global range and reach.

"This collection of essays takes as its theme an enormously important concept for the nineteenth century: traffic, a term that, in a time of unprecedented commercial and imperial expansion, technological developments, population growth and urbanization, acquired new resonance, and came to signify the intensely transactional nature of modernity. One of Ruskin’s most searing critiques of the spiritual condition of England, an invited lecture he delivered in 1864 on the topic of the Bradford Exchange, is entitled ‘Traffic’, and the word clearly signifies for him all that is wrong with post-industrial capitalism. But this stimulating volume encompasses a range of other significations that have additionally come to accrue around the term, relating for example to inter-cultural exchange, to the circulation of ideas and images, to the commodification of identity, and to literature, art and performance in the market place.

The scope of the collection is, appropriately, global, including essays on England’s relations of exchange with Australia, New Zealand, North America, the Far East, and the Caribbean. What we are shown ineluctably is that the traffic between Victorian Britain and the reaches of empire, between Home and Abroad, was two-way, a vehicle for cross-cultural encounter, mediation and trade; and that cultural identity is relational, circulatory and always in motion."

—Hilary Fraser, Birkbeck, University of London

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