Make cyber, not cyber: From cybersex to cyberwar on io9

by Violet Blue on September 16, 2013

This article is a must-read, and is one of my longreads picks of the week. Annalee Newitz knocks it out of the park in The Bizarre Evolution of the Word “Cyber” – a big, juicy read that looks at how the term “cyber” went from “cybersex” to “cyberwar” within the past decade. It’s a must-read with a well constructed and thought-provoking conclusion, and certainly one of Annalee’s best. Includes commentary from Ben Zimmer, R.U. Sirius, Richard Holden, Bruce Sterling, and me.


Today, cyber means war. But back in the 1990s, it meant sex — at least, the kind of sex you can have in a chat room. Why did the word change, and where did it originally come from?

It all started with “cybernetics,” an obscure term popularized by a mathematician named Norbert Weiner in the 1940s.

(…) Ben Zimmer, who writes about linguistics for the Wall Street Journal, agreed with Holden, noting that the seemingly-incongruous ideas of cybersex and cyberwar “grew up side by side.” The earliest recorded use of the term “cybersecurity” came in 1989, the exact same year when the word “cyberporn” was coined. (read more,

Main post image: Heavy Metal tribute artwork by the talented Artgerm.

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - Google Plus - Flickr - YouTube - Reddit

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: