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, io9.com)
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