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<nettime> Re: the end onf an era: the Internet Hits Ground
David Garcia on 23 Jan 2001 16:28:52 -0000


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<nettime> Re: the end onf an era: the Internet Hits Ground



Yes the people who thought the material world was about to disappear were
crazy. Back in the early 90ıs J.P. Barlow came smack up against the cogent
critique of Hakim Bey, who early in game saw the intrinsic spiritual
(Gnostic) dangers of any movement based on seeing the material world as an
illusion or valueless (meatspace). But the illusion stuck and as Felix
pointed out became part of pop culture.

But just maybe its to early to play the wise owls with 20/20 hindsight
vision, ready to consign the rhetoric early visionaries to the dustbin of
history. Sure in their excitement (fashion hypes do have their uses) these
folks exaggerated the immediacy with which the netetc.. would change human
awareness and behavior
But still the net really did change everything, we just got used to it,
thatıs all. This is a peculiarity of human consciousness, collectively we
seem to be only able to tolerate just so much freedom. With every really big
change, after an initial period of extropian intoxication when everything
seems possible, humans get scared and seek to normalize and domesticate the
new landscapes they encounter or create. People at all ends of the political
and cultural spectrum seem to be quite relieved as they rush with unseemly
haste to embrace the Œnew realismı that has replaced the Œnew economyı.

The struggle of national governments and forms of regional governance such
as the EU, to regulate the net does not mean that these efforts will work. A
few high profile cases in which the Yahooıs etc are forced to back down does
not mean that these regulations will actually succeed in curbing the huge
subcultures of exchange that the structurally decentralized nature of the
net have made a reality. Weıll need at least a generation of new kids
exploring the huge remaining flexibility's of the net to find out where we
stand (which I guess was implicit in Felix's final point).
We may hate much of what emerges but all of us including governments will
have to live with the fact that the net has the defects of its qualities. As
the music industry is discovering the information ecology is a reality in
which centralized control is impossible to impose, and as file sharing of
sound and moving image becomes a familiar daily reality this decentralized
quality of the net migrates to the whole media landscape. In this sense John
Gilmourıs famous dictum is yet to be fully refuted, its just to early to
say.

Yes the old rules of the art world remain intact but so what! The real
cultural impact of this era will be seen historically to have come from the
community of programmers and developers that created the open source
movement, who used gnu and the net to challenge more effectively than any
previous avant garde the nature of creativity, collaboration and
intellectual property. What Brecht promised the hackers delivered. As we
make our technologies and they make us, the true outcomes may yet mirror the
early visions more closely than our current era of necessary disenchantment
may allow.


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