THE INTERNET AS A NON PLACE
Recent shift in the perception of space. Before we used to have a concrete and geometrical understanding of it.The Internet arrived as a “virtual landscape made acessible through technology”
A place is physically occupied.
Internet was defined as a non-place by anthropologist Marc Augé.
Characteristics of a non-place overlaps with heterotopia (other space) & lived space.
The term non-place is more explicit in addressing the lack of identity of the space.
The Internet has no identity → it is a void providing ground for the construction and contestations of virtual relations.
Internet = a condensation of the ideals of the people engaging with it → political playfield
Bolter & Grusin : passing through a non-place is an experience of Hypermediacy
Non place is dynamic in its identity, like a chameleon, getting reshaped by other's identities (empty container)
Marc Augé: contemporary society in a state of hypermodernity (acceleration of history, overabundance of events)
Non-place is the space of hypermodernity – quality of excess. Non-places don't have historical background and are devoid of identity (shopping malls, highways, airports) Bracketed places with entry/exit points (log in/log out)
→ non-places are highly structured and regulated.
Internet as heterotopia
Mark Poster prefers talking about heterotopia rather than non-place. (no binary conception of real/false place) – Although Auge uses it in relation with identity & history)
To Michel Certeau “Space is practised place” → no sure what to make out of it but should find out what that means
Augé states that while passing there is a loss of focus creating movement, itineraries.
We then need words for grasping non places (more obvious with the Internet)
Non-place has no identity → implies Network of relations that will define it.
To Foucault there are 2 places related to other sites
a. Utopia → no place in reality
b. Heterotopia → computers can be portals
To Augé the non-place is opposite to Utopia.
6 principles about Heterotopia by Foucault (can be applied to non places)
- all cultures have them
- can have different functions through societies mutations over time
- they are like juxtaposition of real places in one
- have temporal dimension
- they're isolated through an open/close system
- they're related to all other spaces
What's different between non-places and heterotopia?
Non places → relate to a comsumption driven dimension
heterotopia → something more mythological/ religious character
Virtual relations of the Internet space
Woijech Kalaga → concept of virtuality rooted in Deleuzian idea
Relations between objects/subjects constitute the virtual.
The virtual has always existed but technology provides an easy access to it.
These relations exist in the mind.
An object establishing access to it creates a synthesis between materiality and immateriality.
But relations aren't equally distributed (politics!).
A new public sphere
How is dominant ideology circulated and contested within the space?
Internet → vast platform containing information flowing horizontally (citizen → citizen) and vertically (governments → citizens)
Although media techs may seem to have realized the ideals of public sphere, it's hardly true (Habemer)
Access to information isn't enough, critical evaluation is also required.
Public debate is hijacked instead of providing citizens with necessary information for critical assessment.
Brian McNair thinks it's all good, a public sphere “properly functioning” requires mass access and participation on both levels. Consideration relying more on the objectives set forth than understanding the materiality of the Internet.
The Nation-State: Between smooth and striated Space
The question of ownership?
Nation states are local, containments of regions enclosed by shared ideology.
Containment of space is highly political.
The relation between physical geography and virtual topology is investigated by Kraijkamp in cyberspacekolonien... (? would be good to find more about that)
Mark Nunes 'Virtual Topographies: Smooth and striated cyberspace' → spatial insights of Deleuze and Guattari. Internet is composed of smooth and striated space.
Division made opaque by water and highway metaphors :
surfing → vast unconstrained space
highway → Highly regulated existence
“The two spaces exist in fact only as a mixture: smooth is always being translated, traversed into a striated space, striated space gets always reversed, returned into smooth space”
→ We come back to the struggle between DNS and TCIP/IP protocols (hierarchy and distribution)
Instability and dynamic nature of the Internet space subject of contestation and manifestation of political enterprises.
Political consequences when regulating the virtual space which means making smooth striated.
Geography of physical world complicates the mapping out of it.
Identity of the Internet due to contestation, transitory and dynamic.
Composition of the virtual space of the Internet is a construction of relations.
Politics are involved into construction, production and attribution of the virtual space of the Internet.