n. A person who surfs the web with no purpose beyond curiosity and inquisitiveness.
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Intrigued, I set out to discover what happened to the cyberflâneur. While I quickly found other contemporaneous commentators who believed that flânerie would flourish online, the sad state of today’s Internet suggests that they couldn’t have been more wrong. Cyberflâneurs are few and far between, while the very practice of cyberflânerie seems at odds with the world of social media.
—Evgeny Morozov, “The Death of the Cyberflâneur,” The New York Times, February 04, 2012
The practices of cyberflaneurism and cyberphotography differ significantly from traditional flaneurism in this regard. Where the 18th-and 19th-century flaneur sought to evaluate and describe modern transformations in work, politics and public life more generally and the collective consciousness given rise to by these changes, cyberflaneurs-cum-street-photographers inhabit an environment shaped by an ever-increasing publicization of private life.
—“Loitering in cyberspace: Cheryl Sourkes' takes snapshots of the web's digital citizenry,” C: International Contemporary Art, June 22, 2007
1997 (earliest)
I see the value of cyberspace not in the replacement of our cities, but in its potential to rekindle our fondness for and fascination with urban environs. The attraction that it exerts on the millions that stroll through its maze of information might be used to reinvigorate our cities. Cyberflaneurs have become captivated with the Internet's ready supply of huge amounts of information that they can access at all times of day or night.
—Udo Greinacher, Architecture of Fear, Princeton Architectural Press, February 01, 1997
The word flaneur, a saunterer or "man about town" (there's an old-fashioned phrase for you) comes from the French flâner, "to saunter idly", and first appeared in English around 1854. A cyberflaneur is also known as a virtual flaneur, a term that also dates to 1997 (and in fact its first use is in the same essay as the earliest cite for cyberflaneur; see page 290).
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