The internet does not exist. Maybe it did exist only a short time ago, but now it only remains as a blur, a cloud, a friend, a deadline, a redirect, or a 404. If it ever existed, we couldn’t see it. Because it has no shape. It has no face, just this name that describes everything and nothing at the same time. Yet we are still trying to climb onboard, to get inside, to be part of the network, to get in on the language game, to show up on searches, to appear to exist. But we will never get inside of something that isn’t there. All this time we’ve been bemoaning the death of any critical outside position, we should have taken a good look at information networks. Just try to get in. You can’t. Networks are all edges, as Bruno Latour points out. We thought there were windows but actually it’s made of mirrors. And in the meantime we are being faced with more and more—not just information, but the world itself. And a very particular world that has already become part of our consciousness. And it wants something. It doesn’t only want to harvest our eyeballs, our attention, our responses, and our feelings. It also wants to condition our minds and bodies to absorb all the richness of the planet’s knowledge.
There is something we used to call the internet that had an infrastructural base. And it worked a bit like its unconscious, storing all the things the glowing promises of free flow must repress in order to function. Looking under the hood, it turns out that its infrastructure was mostly based in the United States, mostly owned and operated by the United States.
Julian Assange, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Benjamin Bratton, Diedrich Diederichsen, Keller Easterling, Rasmus Fleischer, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Ursula K. Heise, Brian Kuan Wood, Bruno Latour, Geert Lovink, Patricia MacCormack, Metahaven, Gean Moreno, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jon Rich, Hito Steyerl
e-flux journal Series edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle