by Steve Mizrach
When examining most human landscapes, cultural geographers inevitably observe a mixture of the "natural," or given elements, and those that are purely "cultural," or artificial. In the past, they tended to define the "built environment" of buildings, dwellings, and structures as "artificial," and the "given environment" of features such as rivers, hills, and forests as "natural." Today, of course, we know that humankind has never left "wilderness" or "nature" untouched, and beginning in the Neolithic era, we started redirecting the course of rivers, flattening hills, and replacing "native" plant species with "exotic" ones. Thus, cultural geographers are beginning to see the entire landscape as a cultural product - that the human impact on it is not always in terms of obvious artificial impositions. (Hirsch and O'Hanlon 1995.)
I mention this because today humans are busy erecting a new kind of landscape which is totally artificial: what many, following science fiction writer William Gibson, have called cyberspace. (Gibson 1984.) Though it can be used to simulate and model 'nature,' it also can exhibit properties never found in this or any other world. This new kind of space that people are coming to inhabit is curious in many ways. For one thing, it is a "no-space" because it is nowhere: a "consensual hallucination" in which people interact with widely distributed data through textual and visual representations. The laws of physics do not apply in cyberspace, and thus neither do standard limitations on human modes of locomotion, self-representation, or capabilities. Cyberspace is a cultural landscape where rivers can flow uphill and forests can be made of crystal trees - or things infinitely far more bizarre.
Since these new virtual worlds we are creating are cultural products, they are logical objects of study for cultural geography. While it might seem a stretch to apply the techniques of even the newest and most avant-garde forms of cultural geography to such a strange kind of human space, I suggest it's not unusual, because cultural geography has, as I've been suggesting, come to the realization that it had studied artificial worlds all along. The artificial worlds of cyberspace are made out of different structures (digital data) than other cultural landscapes, but those structures emerge out of patterns constrained by the technology available to designers (which is itself a cultural product) and the perceptual choices and preferences of both the users and creators of those structures - which also emerge out of culture. (Benedikt 1991.)
We can ask the same questions of cyberspace that we ask of other human spaces. How is cyberspace being used, and for what kinds of 'virtual' activities are its 'virtual' worlds being designed to facilitate? What patterns of social relations play out in the kinds of virtual spaces that exist in cyberspace? Are we erecting virtual agoras or simply electronic disneylands? How does power shape the nature and experience we have of cyberspace? What values and belief systems are embodied in the ways in which these virtual worlds are erected? How do people orient themselves and navigate their way through cyberspace in a way that is culturally meaningful? Does cyberspace simply reflect the ethnocentrism and cultural biases of the people (mostly Western computer programmers, but also some Japanese) primarily involved in its design? (Bruckman 1996.)
All of these questions are ones in which some of the ideas in both the new and old cultural geography can be applied. Cyberspace is made up fundamentally of numbers (binary bits and bytes) and is not only quantifiable, but in a sense almost made of quantity. Yet, through virtual reality, simulation, and visualization, people experience it qualitatively, even immersively, just like "reality." (Mitchell 1995.) Cultural anthropologists of space, and cultural geographers, need to visit this new "field" of human life - which is becoming the space of more and more key human activities, ranging from commerce to weddings to our own research. We need to start understanding it now, lest the sprawl of the information superhighway harm many more people than the unanticipated suburban sprawl (at least by most geographers) created from the 50s automobile highways.
Though cyberspace can be understood as a mental space of attention where people are when they are engaged in electronic communication (thus even a person reading email or talking on the telephone is 'in cyberspace'), increasingly it has become synonymous with virtual reality and the immersive experience of computer-generated worlds (which was the sense in which Gibson originally used the word.) Since these virtual worlds are still in the process of being designed and implemented, they are of a variety of kinds. "Standard" VR technology involves the use of a headmounted stereoscopic display which places the computer-generated world in the full field of vision of the person. However, another type of virtual world could be the more widespread kind where the person views a rendered 3D-modelled universe through a 2-dimensional screen. Since this is usually viewed from a first-person perspective through a fairly large 'window,' it also can seem immersive. (Laurel 1991.)
This type of cyberspace is being implemented through the use of VRML (virtual reality modelling language) code on the World Wide Web, making it available to Internet users worldwide without much hardware (other than a compatible browser.) All sorts of virtual worlds right now suffer from the limitation of looking far from realistic or 'lifelike.' The headmounted-visor type of VR typically involves realistically rendered computer-generated objects, whose "refresh" rate (the rate at which the texture polygons are redrawn) usually fails to keep up with the movement of the person's head. They don't match his change in point of view quickly enough, which leads to some feeling of vertigo. (Weibel 1995.) In contrast, the static 3D simulations which people "move" through on the Web, however realistically rendered, still appear 2-dimensional because they do not engage the person's depth perception. Thus, in either case, the viewer has no sense of being anyplace "real," e.g. in the non-computer-generated world.
But most designers of virtual worlds have seen simulating reality as a hindrance. It prevents the most interesting features of virtual worlds from being implemented. One is that the person need not experience the perspective of the world from their standard point of view. They could see it from a bird's eye point of view, or if they experience it through 'avatar' technology, as a bird moving through the scene. Virtual worlds don't usually display the laws of physics in action - walls rarely have solidity, gravity is optional, the flow of time is unnecessary. (Hayward and Wollen 1995.) Within the parameters of the computer-generated reality, the person can move through the virtual world through almost any sort of navigation. There's no need for them to walk; in fact some virtual worlds allow the person to move in any direction in which they can point. Reinforcing this unreality is the fact that most of these worlds only engage only the senses of hearing and sight; rarely is touch invoked.
Cyberspace is not anywhere in our physical reality. It also does not really even exist "within" the computer or data network. The truth is, it is an illusion, a consensual hallucination , created by interface technology which "translates" digital data into a world that can be experienced by the human sensorium. It is, as some people have suggested, a no-place; it exists solely within "headspace." (Moser 1996.) However, it is not purely sollipsistic. People can share this same hallucination, in a way that is fully interactive and mutual. Through connection to the same virtual environment through the same interface, people can have all kinds of interactions, limited only by their imaginations. Needless to say, the public imagination has been captured by the possibility of "cybersex," and undoubtedly the development of technology to make this "interface" achievable will push the development of other systems.
There can be (and perhaps must be) a geography of cyberspace, for the simple fact that it (like the real world) is discontinuous. People cannot experience a virtual world in its entirety all at once. However, it may not be meaningful to "map" virtual worlds in terms of Cartesian coordinates or latitude and longitude. Still, virtual worlds can contain a multitude of places, each of which are perceived and experienced differently, and thus there must be ways in which we can 'map' cyberspace, however arbitrarily. To do the cultural geography of cyberspace, we must accept the fact that it is not a space that can be measured by simple linear units. Movement from place to place in cyberspace can only be described in terms of difference of experience - but we should not be surprised that those kinds of experience can include feelings of the uniqueness, importance, and meaningfulness of places. (Holtzmann 1994.)
Creators of virtual worlds make a number of choices in how the design their computer-generated realities. The most important one might be the sort of world they are. Immersive worlds fill the field of vision of the person, which is usually accomplished through a stereoscopic headmount. 3D worlds are typically experienced through a window on a screen, but on a large enough monitor, they can fill a large amount of a person's field of vision. (Hamit 1993.) If staircases, walls, etc. are rendered in a lifelike enough way, the compelling nature of 'screen worlds' can still make a person feel as if they are fully' inside' that world. People are clearly more fascinated by and absorbed within the immersive type of virtual world. It eliminates the ordinary barrier between the viewer and 'scene' imposed by the screen. Were it not for the bulky hardware that facilitates the experience, the person might (given sufficient realism) presumably assume they are still someplace in the 'real' world.
Akin to this implementation choice is that of point of view for experiencers. They can experience it (as they do in many video games) in "third person" through some sort of icon or 'avatar' that represents them. This avatar could be some sort of humanlike form that resembles them, or it could be anything else. People might traverse the virtual world in the form of a crab, a wolf, a bird, or something even stranger. They might be viewing the actions of their representative from behind, or below, or above - perhaps even shift their perspective. In some simulations, the person does not view their own avatar, but it appears visible to the point of view to other persons, duplicating their movements, speaking when they speak, imitating their mannerisms. Most people generally prefer this sort of "first person" experience of cyberspace - where at most they might see those elements of their own body which are normally visible to a person looking straight ahead (usually only a hand or an arm.) All they see are the elements of the virtual world as they would appear from their 'real world' point of view (tracked by sensors.) The "first person" view heightens the sense of realism. (Schweber 1995.)
Another is the way in which people traverse or navigate through cyberspace. Virtual worlds can be spatially or non-spatially navigated. Hypertext worlds can be navigated through clicking on text, a mode of movement through words. An extensions of this concept is navigation through hypermedia (such as on a CD-ROM), where the person enters different parts of the experience through clicking on icons, images, or even regions of sound (where the cursor movement generates a certain musical pattern.) This is the way most people 'move' through the World Wide Web. But in spatially navigated 'zones' of cyberspace, the question then becomes how the person 'moves' through that space. Do they walk through it? Fly through it? Transport to different areas using "teleportation portals?" Many simulations generally allow the person to navigate through space using some type of implement - a joystick, trackball, or pointer, or perhaps pointing using a 'data glove.' Or clicking by mouse on a region of space is assumed to indicate an intent to move toward that region. Depending on the 'laws of physics' in the simulation, different kinds of movement are facilitated. The person may move through it in some kind of vehicle, such as a light cycle, hovercar, or marching robot. (Hayward and Wollen 1995.)
Yet another choice is the level of interactivity. As with many of these other design choices, it depends on bandwidth and processor power, because the number of simultaneous users and the variety of interactions users can have with each other put strains on both. Some gaming simulations allow only two simultaneous users, competing for some sort of goal (perhaps the elimination of the other user, as in a Doom DeathMatch.) Other simulations, like Lucasfilm's Habitat, allow many people to simultaneously participate, usually interacting through conversation and movement toward private or nonprivate "rooms." Some simulations limit users to have a rote variety of responses toward other users. A person clicks on an action and their 'avatar' responds appropriately. High-interactivity simulations allow a wide variety of simultaneous interactions with a large number of people - which is akin to what we experience in the "real world." But this requires a great deal of flexibility in the system that governs the unfolding of the virtual world. (Barlow 1991.)
Last but not least is the choice of the designer of how closely to approximate "realism." How realistic the person feels the virtual world is depends on all these other factors, but most importantly on how lifelike the elements of the world seem. Do the movement of other characters seem fluid and intelligent, or awkward and jerky? Are techniques such as shading, rendering, and lighting used to give the virtual objects a sense of solidity and depth? Do actions in the virtual world produce the same sorts of consequences that typical "real world" actions do? (Benedikt 1991.) Designers are coming up with ways to even give (through tactile 'dataglove' interfaces) virtual objects a physical texture, perhaps even a feeling of weight and mass. Still, we are a long way from having people 'sit' comfortably in a virtual chair. But it's clear that people prefer simulations that are convincingly 'lifelike,' and designers tend to cater to that choice, so this is driving the technology in that direction.
We can begin to differentiate cyberspace in several ways. Besides the technical features of its implementation, we can also look at the kinds of activities it supports, of the kinds of users who "inhabit" it, the kinds of "real world" spaces it emulates, and the kinds of social relations it facilitates. Thus, we might have 'electronic agoras' as envisaged by researchers in the MIT Media Lab (Negroponte 1995) -- places of civic discourse and community discussion; or simple 'digital shopping malls' where the main interactions are asking people where to find the best products. However cyberspace might be designed, the ultimate question becomes whether it is merely a diversion or entertainment, or if people can employ it for other purposes. The pattern has usually been (on the Internet) to introduce technologies for academic purposes, which are then diverted into diversions, and then ultimately into other social purposes.
Thus, the first electronic conferencing systems were used by researchers for academic collaboration. This was followed by the use of MUDs and MOOs for people to people to "live out" the imaginary worlds of their favorite fantasy and science fiction novels. After that came simulations which were designed to be experiments in creating community, such as Diversity University, which was designed as a "living laboratory" for multiculturalism. What seems to be happening with the Internet now as a whole is also curiously complicated. Originally designed as a defense command and control network (when it was DARPANet), it became a government research network (as NSFNet), and now seems to be becoming a corporate network, with people constantly coming up with ways to use it to advertise, promote, and sell products and engage in "electronic commerce." Along the way, there was another vision - of the Net as a tool to foster 'virtual community', a vision which was lived out in cyberspaces such as San Fransciso's Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) - but which seems to be fading by the wayside. (Laurel 1991.)
The design of virtual architectures, just as is the case with real landscapes, communicates social messages of power. Who lays down the terrain of cyberspace? Who assumes the responsibility of guiding people through it? How much choice is left in the hands of the user and how much is created for him by the creators of virtual content? What kinds of activities are permitted, discouraged, banned, facilitated, encouraged? It is social choices that determine what cyberspace becomes used for - whether as a space for electronic commerce (a marketplace), civil society (public discussion and participation), places of belonging (virtual communities), creative interchange (interactive media display), 'forbidden' interactions (such as cyberporn, the computer underground, or trade in 'illicit' information), or experimentation (role playing different identities). (Lauria 1995.) But these choices are not made 'freely' - they are constrained by the infrastructure of cyberspace, which is at once its hardware, software, and standards of enforced conduct for users.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) chose their name deliberately because of the way they analogized cyberspace to the Western frontier on the 19th century. It is in many ways a wild, outlaw territory. But most importantly, it is also "wide open" (in a way that the Western frontier never really was, because there were Indians and other people already living there), waiting to be settled by people adventurous to begin what some people see as the next inevitable phase of human existence - electronic embodiment. (Barlow 1991.) Like the frontier, cyberspace is thought to be a place full at the same time of both promise and danger. There is the chance for people to have a new start, to "homestead" virtual communities in a "virgin" space, but there also plenty of bandits, predators, and people prepared to waylay the unwary. The choices we make in cyberspace now will doubtless shape what it looks like for a long time to come, but on the other hand, it is also (unlike the Western frontier) a theoretically infinite space, which will not "close" anywhere in the near future.
Cyberspace is a cultural landscape par excellence because, in ways unlike any other landscape, its form embodies totally the values and perceptual biases of its creators. Since it is being shaped digitally ex nihilo, there is no pre-existing natural landscape on which human agency is being imposed. What is fascinating for so many about cyberspace is that it is a metaphysical space of pure mind, a construct of pure cyberculture - hence the feelings people report of disembodiment, transcendence, and transformation. In the realities being erected in virtual worlds, we can see the ethics and ideals of the largely hermetic community of hackers, sysops, multimediacs, and digerati taking shape. Still, these virtual worlds also reflect so much of popular and public culture, so they are not a closed cultural process. (Weibel 1995.) The needs and desires of the largely computer-illiterate community of users for transparency, for versimilitude, and for social interaction are also pushing cyberspace in new directions.
For some people, there are utopian expectations for cyberspace; others see more practical imperatives for the "information superhighway." Almost all acknowledge that as with previous technologies (radio, television, etc.) the utopian promises for cyberspace may fall short, but the dystopian dangers will also be remote. Most of the social changes will be far-ranging, and unexpected. The point I want to emphasize is that the cultural changes wrought by cyberspace cannot be seen as purely accidental. They are the result of social choices; they occur through the agency of the institutions that are allowed to direct how cyberspace is developed and used. (Lauria 1995.) If Detroit had a heavy hand in shaping our interstate highway system, and the media corporations helped "dumb down" television, we should not be surprised when telecommunications and media multinationals start trying to take over the development of cyberspace "for the benefit of the consumer," as suggested in the recent U.S. Telecom Bill.
Just as many cultural geographers have treated the physical landscape as a text, so now can they start to 'read' cyberspace, on multiple levels. One way might be just to 'read' it as binary digital code, or as higher-level programming code. However, most people don't relate to cyberspace as a series of 0s and 1s, anymore than they relate to text in a book as a series of light and dark dots. Another way to 'read' cyberspace might be naively, literally as a product of the intention of its designers. (Moser 1996.) In this view, cyberspace is a top-down construct, and so we can study how this or that space is put together, assembled from various kinds of software and programming imperatives. The designers are trying to "communicate" something authoritative to the users of the system, and thus everyone will come away with cyberspace influenced by their goals.
But, just as reader-response literary critics, "viewer-poacher" media critics, and new cultural geographers are coming to realize, there are any number of possible readings of cyberspace, mainly because of its intrinsic mutability. Castles can "morph" into hovels, and users can "port" from room to room. What is being brought down the fiber optic line to the user is a series of bits - what gets done with those bits is up to the user. (Negroponte 1995.) It's possible to allow someone to customize their experience in cyberspace, so that the nature of it is as much a product of their choices as the "producer" of those digital bits. Unlike with broadcast media, the synchronous nature of Internet communication provides for near-instaneous feedback, allowing cyberspace experiences that continually update based on the preferences and previous actions of the user. True interactivity truly gives every user their own interpretation of the virtual world.
What the operators of online services have realized, however, is that people want cyberspace to be more than aesthetically pleasing and sensually immersive. They want to interact with other people, and perhaps even AIs (artificial intelligences) or agents that manifest some of the personality features and behaviors of other people. They want a customized way of 'reading' cyberspace, of 'navigating' its landscapes, but not in such a sollipsistic way as to avoid having contact and interaction with other people. The 'spaces' of cyberspace that become most quickly occupied often surprise its designers. When France started up its Minitel service, the last thing they expected to see take off in popularity was its chat rooms. Sure enough, the popularity of its so-called "pink chat rooms" (where people engaged in attempting virtual or IRL amorous liaisons) almost ended up crashing the system. (Barlow 1991.)
What most cyber-geographers have realized is that with cyberspace, what most people are "reading" is the interface. Human-computer interface design has been an important element of cyberspace construction for twenty years. The realization that people more easily could "read" (and interact with) an interface of windows and icons transformed the nature of the personal computer industry, where 90% of all computers run such an interface. People "read" a great deal into the interface, and they can interpret difficulty of use and lack of transparency as an almost obtuse "unfriendliness" on the part of the computer. Since none of us have "brain jacks" that can pipe in digital data directly, all of us have to experience cyberspace through some sort of interface. And the nature of that interface will affect how we relate spatially and otherwise to cyberspace. In the future, it may respond not just to our typing and our mouse clicks, but perhaps also our voice, our touch, maybe even our thoughts. (Laurel 1991.)
In textual simulations, we are forced to "read" their imaginary geographies. On a MUD, we know that going west takes us to the parlor, and up to the cellar, and so we can form a mental map of the virtual world described to us solely in textual terms. Likewise with BBSes, that often divide up their system into several "areas" around an implicit spatial structure such as a pyramid, a house, or a space ship. Some BBSes try and develop a "sense of place" and uniqueness which separates them from other systems. The Bay Area WELL system, for example, is a place which particularly appeals to Deadheads, counterculturalists, and hackers, and is "laid out" in a way that makes them feel comfortable and welcome. But more importantly, the WELL tries to create a sense of community in its users, and it has policies (such as "you own your own words") and other features that help people relate to the system and its other users in this way. (Rheingold 1994.)
Though the more explicitly spatial cyberspace geographies leave less to the imagination, they may not necessarily leave themselves less open. Like many MUDs, there may be virtual worlds that allow people to create their own objects, dwellings, and artificial companions. Cyberspace will truly be an ever-changing text, because it will be a never-ending story that people are constantly adding to and taking away from. Conferencing systems designed for government bureaucrats may be taken over by cyberpunk hackers and turned into outlaw chatsubos. It will be to the advantage of cyberspace designers to build some degree of adaptability to the system. There will always be an openness in the reading of cyberspace that could never really exist with a paper book or concrete building, and thus the "sense of place" for people in cyberspace may always be changing. (Schweber 1995.)
The new world of cyberspace will undoubtedly change the role of geography in civic life. Originally, even in the Greek polis, geography was destiny, and who you could interact with was limited by where you lived. Today, in theory, there is no cyberspace barrier (except an email filter or alias) between you and the mayor or any civic elites. Cyberspace levels distance of space and social position. No one knows where you are logging in from, although they can often infer many things from cues you provide. A person's email address is not a fixed point in cyberspace - it's allows them to communicate from anywhere, to anywhere, sort of like a phone number that follows you everywhere. (Mitchell 1995.) Through synchronous communication systems like Internet Relay Chat or voice conferencing systems like Maven, instantaneous "face-to-face" communication becomes more a matter of time (who logs in at the same time) than spatial distance. It will be possible for civic leaders and the community to hold "electronic town hall meetings," like was only previously possible in the small towns of New England.
Cyberspace will also continue the collapsing of physical time and space that has begun in the 20th century. There are already numerous (somewhat humorous) stories of people logging into the Net, losing track of time, and "emerging" from cyberspace hours or even days later, realizing that they've forgotten to pick up their children or spouse. The clock is a convenient means of getting people all in the same place at the same time, which in 13th century monasteries of 20th century industrial factories is essential. But with people working at home, "telecommuting" in their "electronic cottages," the eight hours they put in a day may not necessarily be the same eight hours others do. There may not even need to be a physical office where people meet on a regular basis, if the equivalent (a place where management can interact with employees and find out about progress on projects) exists in cyberspace. Peoples' schedules may start being driven more by the Tokyo stock market and Budapest radio schedule than the hourly rhythms of where they live. (Negroponte 1995.)
Undoubtedly, cyberspace is causing the collapse in many ways of traditional geographic identification. Some commentators greet the apparent disappearance of nationalism emerging through the rise of global cyberspace. On the other hand, others point to the way in which people are neglecting their own neighborhood communities (the physical places where they live) while turning to virtual communities for companionship - places where, some claim, the webs of mutual obligation and reciprocity that compose "true" community are not found. (Rheingold 1994.) Some see the disappearance of the idea of identity through geography (you are who you are based on who lives in the same place you do) with horror; others see it as an antidote to xenophobia and ethnocentrism. What seems to be happening in cyberspace is that people are starting to identify themselves through virtual addresses - "oh, I'm an AOL user" - based on their point of access to the Net. Parochial judgements are taking on new forms, as when all AOL users are thought to be clueless bumpkins and 'newbies' who don't know their way around.
The fragmentation of identity which people often claim is a feature of postmodern life seems to be amplified in cyberspace. A person need no longer be "embodied" in one self in one place. They may have any number of virtual "selves" in various cyber-locations, personae which they can adopt whenever they feel the need. You truly can be in more than one place; and it's common for Internet users to be "multiply connected" with friends through a number of modalities, chatting on the Internet Relay Chat in one window while simultaneously trying to shoot down an opponent in a Doom DeathMatch. This may force cultural geographers to rethink the relationship between self and space. (Bruckman 1996.) For a long time, humans have been accustomed to being "rooted" in a place, either through birth or special attachment. But in cyberspace, people might find themselves multiply existent, in any number of concurrent virtual worlds.
To some, the idea of any metaphysical significance to the reality of cyberspace is all hype. Still, there can be no doubt that cyberspace is qualitatively different from any other kind of space which people have inhabited. Gibson's dream, of corporeally entering cyberspace (depicted in the movie Lawnmower Man), drives a lot of people, including the VR coders at Autodesk, Inc. (Hamit 1993.) To the pioneers of virtuality, there is a sense that this all could be a whole new phase of human evolution. All this talk about "downloading" personalities into digital form represents, in a new form, the human ambition for transcending the body and cheating death. As long as human identity is something fixed in space and time, this may not be possible. Cyberspace holds out the tantalizing possibility that this need no longer be the case. But also the terrible flip side - which is that the difference between us and our digital constructs may not be as great as we think.
People working in the anthropology of space and cultural geography have "fertile territory" to survey in cyberspace. Unlike so many other landscapes, this is one which is being built right before their eyes. Observing how people perceive, locate themselves, find meaning, and identify themselves in cyberspace, may help us understand the analogous processes of how this occurs in 'realspace.' However, cyberspace provides more than a testing ground for existing hypotheses about how social-cultural relations emerge in space. It is a new kind of space that is emerging, and will force the rethinking of old assumptions about place and space. Deciding how to do the cartography of a place that is nowhere and everywhere at the same time may be a redoubtable task; even moreso, analyzing and explaining the new kinds of identities and interactions that emerge in such a new, unforeseen place.
It may be argued for a long time whether we are in the midst of a post-industrial/information-age/postmodern social revolution. No one knew during the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution that a revolution was taking place. Still, electronic media are revolutionizing what we think of as literacy, robots and AIs may soon start taking on characteristics we reserved for 'humanity' alone, and various artificial life experiments are causing us to rethink the basis of life and consciousness. (Complexity and self-organization?) In the same sense, cyberspace may be erasing what we think we knew about space. What it means to be in some place and not another is changing. People may start living more and more in the "no-place" of cyberspace. So in the future, any geographer who ignores cyberspace and its impact on the human ordering of space may be doing so at their own peril.