Supposedly the Internet was invented at CERN. If CERN is really responsible for this infinitely large filing cabinet, filled to bursting by lunatics, salesmen, hobbyists and pornographers, that folds up like Masefield's box of delights and fits into my pocket, then CERN poses an even larger threat to the world than the fabled potential production of black holes.
Nonetheless, I use it, or does it use me? Is it a new cultural ecology, an ecology of mind? If it is, who are the real predators, who is being eaten on-line? Is it me?
Once I longed to create an interface that would simulate my interaction with the real world. Now I realize that the interface I want is the real world. Can the Internet give me that back?
Is it an archive? I can learn a new idea every day on the Internet. I have learned about many old ideas and many false ideas. I have read many obvious lies. This capacity to indefinitely sustain a lie is celebrated as freedom. Denialism enters stage left, cloaked as skepticism. We need a navigation system we can trust. Someday soon we'll need our 20th century experts and interpreters to be replaced by 21st century creator-pilots.
Is it an open system? It seems impossible to find out on the Internet what it really costs the planet to sustain the Internet and its toys, what it costs our culture to think, to play, to fondle and adore itself. Seven of the world's largest corporations own all the routers and cables. Everyone pays the ferryman.
Is it liberating? The old, the poor and the uneducated are locked out. Everyone else is locked in. All studies show mass users locked in reversed and concentric learning patterns, seeking only the familiar, even, perhaps especially, if novelty is their version of the same old thing. As a shared space, it is a failure, celebrating only those that obey its rules. We sniff out our digital blazes, following the circular depletion of our own curiosity reservoirs. We are running out of selves.
Is it really just about communication? To travel is to enter a world of monastic chimes and insectile clicks, as unloved cell phone chatter is replaced by mobile anchorites locked in virtual communion with their own agendas and prejudices, cursing when their connections fail and they are returned to the real, immediate world. But unplugging only returns us, and them, to a space in-waiting, designed and ordered by the same system.
Is it a new space? If this is true, then immediately I am drawn to the implied space inevitably also being created, the anti-net. If it's a new space, how big are we, when we are on-line? But what's really missing here? Meaning, touch, time and place are what's missing here. We need a holographic rethinking of scale and content.
But like you, I'm back every day, 'collaborating' as they say. Because there is something being built, or building itself, in this not-yet space. Perhaps the Internet we know is merely a harbinger and like Ulysses returning, dirty, false and lame, it will only truly reveal itself when we are ready. Perhaps it will unfold itself soon and help us bring the real ecology back to life, unveil the conspiracies, shatter the mirrors, tear down the walls, rejoice and bring forth the promise that is truly waiting in us, waiting only for it's release. I'm ready now.