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Who can blame us for harboring an insurrectionary desire for the untravelled narrow winding alleys, shadowy steps, covered ways & virtual tunnels, & forbidden cellars of a city which has designed itself - unconsciously - within an śsthetic of festive & secret conviviality, & of the curvacious negentropic mutability of memory itself?


Up till a few years ago - no, up till last year, well, up till ten minutes ago - there was a very weird feeling surrounding the Internet, a kind of magical aura that surrounds any new technology. There is an old saying that any technology that you donít understand is like magic. In other words, how many people could fix that television if it broke? Maybe there are actually a few people who could do that. But, by and large, it is magic. The Internet is so unknown, the computer itself is so complex that it has this kind of magic aura, a halo around it. Out of that feeling, there came certain expectations that were almost messianic: the feeling that the Internet was going to save us, that the Internet was out of control (thatís the title of a very popular book). Because it was out of control, that no government could control it, just by existing it was going to be a factor for liberation. Over the last few of years, there were a number of conferences and a number of publications and quite a lot of thinking along these lines.cyberchick

It turns out that that there were two different kinds of people who had these expectations. One is what we call in America "extropians," people who think that the machine is the next stage of evolution, and that the intelligent machine will somehow replace human intelligence. This is science fiction. It might be; one never likes to make predictions about technology. Maybe someday there will be artEficial intelligence. In fact, the question is whether there is any un-artEficial intelligence. The other type of person who talked about the Net as freedom basically had an antigovernment line. The idea was that the Internet could not be controlled by government. It was somehow going to create this wonderful anarchy in the world just by existing, just because of the strange horizontal network aspect where there is no control center for the Internet. When you come to think of it, all communications systems are out of control in this way, including language. Language itself, after all, is the original communications technology, and language is out of control. Governments try to control language, especially in the 20th century, but they find finally that language is out of control. There are always poets, there are always people who use language in creative ways. bad habit

The other point is that when the Internet has a few thousand or even a couple of million people on it, most of those people were fairly well informed. Probably most of you belong to that group. But now there are millions and millions and millions of new subscribers to the Internet. As far as they are concerned, it is just another entertainment medium. In America, I would say the average user of the Internet is waiting for MSN ( gross!) to come up and is looking forward for some chat-line about their favorite sitcom on television or their favorite music group. They are not interested in freedom or discussing the theories about freedom of information. They are not interested in issues of censorship and control. They are simply interested in being entertained. As the Internet and television come together, which is what is happening now, with systems such as point-to-point or pointcasting as it is called a program can be designed just for you. You can have your own channel that will entertain you. Intelligent search engines will go and look up the kind of news or entertainment you are interested in and feed it to you everyday along with little advertisements that run in the upper right-hand corner at the same time, thus proving that human being can do two things at once. They can read news and look at advertisements at the same time. It is a great step forward, ahah. No doubt, there is very interesting work ahead of us in places like this. However, it is very hard to keep up with this. Itís hard to have the facts and it is even harder to have the consciousness.

who are these people?