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Re: <nettime> Re: there is no place in cyberspace
Pit Schultz on 15 Sep 2000 05:39:19 -0000


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Re: <nettime> Re: there is no place in cyberspace


bc>  astronomical space has space dust, asteroids, stars,
bc>  gases, high-energy particles, etc.
beautiful! how about digital dust, info asteroids, web stars,
bit gas, high-information particles, not to forget cyberspace
trash etc. ?

bc> it is a void, but it
bc>  is not completely empty.
sure, nothingness as a concept. but the zero was invented at
a certain time in human history, it wasn't preexisting. its
a conceptional thing filling a fictional space.
cyberspace is full of zeros.
but what i meant is that with the appearence of the "information
space", real space begins to disappear and the kosmos becomes
a blueprint of how to describe this "space". the age of cyber
takes the grand fairy tales of the space age and turns it into
movies about grandfather astronauts.
for the very most people beeing in outer-space is like a dream,
they never have been there and they never will be. it might
be disappointing, but the extra-planetary expansion of the
human race might just remain a science fiction story.
space was always just a mirror of contemporary thinking. today's
kosmology might be near to giving up the idea of an outer space
ready to be colonized by human technologies, and convert it into
an entertainment space. the selling the rights of the mars landing
and mars attacks part IV feeds up into the same "content genre".
we are about to discover a virtual cosm, an information space,
which doesn't organize like a "physical" or better "optical" space
along vectors and grids, but more along
intensities, time zones, attention, knowledge, and most
of all the flows of money. "space" then becomes an
interface in itself, a metaphorical reference to the
physical boundaries of the world, which defines perceptional
and cultural boundaries. it's a constructed space, 100% man made.

oc>  the relation between astronomic space and digital space,
bc>  then is different in a physical sense, in that in one there
bc>  is a vacuum, in the other, there is a plenum, a consistent
bc>  materialized medium.
i spoke more about "space" as a master narrative. take the dot-
com economy which is dominated by a specific permutational
scarcity in the .com - name-space. every brand monopoly
territorializes a virtual claim in the brains of the consumers.
it is an interesting difference of emptyness (thousands of
possible top level domains) and fullness (the highly
condensed and organized name-space of ICANN).
meanwhile this space is rather about the psychology of marketing,
then the technological boundaries itself.
the network society constructs the space which it deserves.
if a narrative of defending your bio- or sociotopes leaks over to the
information infrastructure, you have these strange reactionary
fights for identities vs. individualization, war and peace in the
global village.
while the imateriality of digital code radically subverts the idea
of identity and an original object or subject. astronomic space behaves like
a "retro" movement here. contemporary science fiction with its
scepticism towards the realness of reality (matrix...) might anyway
discover that "hyperspace" has many gateways to "cyberspace", that
one space is the interface for the other.

bc>  the electro-chemical
bc>  human brain, consciousness, and reality being a natural
bc>  version of this e-space.
for cyberspace the map is the territory. the physical nodes
are important, but more in a semi-transparent way, for the
technicians for example. on a higher network level, where
applications like Explorer and Napster rule, the physics of the net
are invisible, translated into adresses, transmission time etc.
it wouldn't hurt much to have my local harddrive located in hongkong
as long as the bandwidth is ok. there's an
extreme stretching and bending of time and place possible
which makes the continuity of optical space a construction,
as well as the idea of 'beeing' in cyberspace.
space reappears in 3d games, as one possible representation of
data, one possible cyber-narrative. (especially in 3d space sims.)
and einstein would be really amazed about the time compression
function, which makes gamerz wait less...
for some people the physics of space might be seperateable from the
fascination for space. for most people its one coherent
entertainment genre extending over different media.

bc>  this is Virilian in that not only is the light of speed, the
bc>  movement, the message. but that it is a twist on Einstein's
bc>  equation: energy = mass x lightspeed^squared
which doesn't include the concept of information...

bc>  in the digital realm of electronics and cyberspace, electrons
bc>  of energy become electrons of information, carrying the
bc>  symbolic code of human meaning. thus, the equation could
bc>  be said to have become:

bc>  electronic energy = electronic information

interestingly information theory is based on thermodynamics,
but this is a methodical decision... it's not a 'natural law'.

bc>  thus--

bc>  electronic information = mass x lightspeed^squared
possibly there is a certain relation of information and energy on
the level of computer hardware, it is based on how many smallest
elements you need to carry a bit. an electron today, a quantum spin
tomorrow. if you can control quantum physics you have the next
generation hardware, if you can control the quantum effect,
certain laws of locality are becoming obsolete.. (ugh, i'm not
a scientist.) but what kind of hybrid is "electronic information"?
the cybernetic axiom says that information is selfreferential:
information is information not matter or energy. an electron is not a bit.
it's just the physical carrier of a bit. and a bit is not an electron.
by radically deviding both spheres information was born. this is
the cybernetic cut which you seem to like to glue together again.
information itself has no speed limit, only the carrier has it.

bc>  when dialing in to an ISP via a phone line, not only is there
bc>  a physical connection between the electrons coursing through
bc>  the microprocessor and other circuitry of the computer, but
bc>  a physical connection consists between the power plant miles
bc>  away and the energy being transferred near lightspeed (not
bc>  in a vacuum, but in a cable, probably copper, thus slower,
bc>  but still instantaneous).

which has a certain aesthetics, a futurist one?

bc>  a symbolic representation. this energy-info then is sent
bc>  via modem, through wires made up of atoms, whose electrons
bc>  are used to relay the information from one orbit to the
bc>  next by utilizing and controlling the materiality of the
bc>  electron particle of the wire's atoms.

not to forget the wireless transmissions, especially when
it heats up a part of your brain and gives you a headache
using the cellular phone for too long. watch out for UMTS
running on more than 4 Ghz. The biochemical side effects
of the carrier signals are a story in itself. Here is
were cybernetics fails.

bc>  the empty space of nothingness, in these cases, is sub-
bc>  atomic, the interface between particles and nothingness,
bc>  like the astronomical space of planets orbiting suns
bc>  in the void, billions and billions of these in the known
bc>  universe.

well, take the void of empty hard-drive spaces... sure
there never can be enough empty memory space, enough bandwidth...
but this is exactly following the dominant narrative
of space. there never can be enough.. Henry Jenkins says that
computer game culture in Japan is brought forward by the lack
of an 'own' space for teenagers in the urban environment. (fran
illich pointed this out) the digital void is only unlimited in
human imagination. cyberspace has computational limits (around
64bit at the moment) and it surely is of a calculateable size
in terms of storage space, bandwidth, nodes etc. while technically,
or scientifically these spheres are devided, on the level of
the narrative, myth and esthetics the borders are more permeable.
astronomical space is limited by the ways it is measured. with
every bigger step in science it is fundamentally changing.
but in the narrative it follows the same tale of an empty space
"out there - ready to be colonized by imagination.
after the tales of the sea, desert, wood you have the tales
of cyberspace, of avatars, code breakers, terrorists...
on the other hand: with every website you create a planet,
a city or at least a "home". my concept of cyberspace is
rather following "le petit prince".

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