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2001.02.14. - Brian Carroll, Redux: 'Spacial Discursions' by Robert Nirre

Subject: Redux: 'Spatial Discursions' by Robert Nirre
From: brian carroll
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 01:18:34 +0000

with all due respect to Pit, i find this article lacking for the same reasons previously brought up on discussing 'there is no space in cyberspace'. if a paper's central position is called into question, i think most everything else can be assumed to be questioned, too. and in this case, it is cyberspace as a functional spatial-temporal 'actuality'. besides all the fancy language, and the intellectualist bravado of the writing, trying to map point-line-plane(area) onto electromagnetic networks and debunk any connection between physical space while glorifying the tangibility of the point is highly suspect. for example, this statement:

> ____________________________________________________________________
> Article 92 13-02-01 Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
> ____________________________________________________________________
> Spatial Discursions: Flames of the Digital and Ashes of the Real
> Confessions of a San Francisco Programmer
> ================================================================
> ~Robert Nirre~
> The Illusion of Community
> -------------------------
> Cyberspace: a floating term with different images..,,
> But what is this, exactly? Clearly it
> isn't amenable to our spatial understanding. There is neither a
> physical nor even a conceptual space. There are places but nothing
> between them, no interspatiality; one navigates a sprawling
> agglomeration of webbed-together billboards, of insides without
> exteriors, of islands of hyperdense information adrift on
> etherealized seas.

this is a typical clean-room view of the Internet/WWW. fish-in- fishbowl effect. what is an electron, say? or copper wires? or electric and telecom distribution poles? are there not the physical and spatial representations of the space and time transversed by electronic communications.

while 'cyberspace' might be mythical, as a word, it is no less precise than the fuzzy logic used to try to debunk the issues people use it to address, such that there is a spatiality to computer networks. open any network computer magazine and look at the centerfold networks. wireless and wired. nodes and servers and printers and workstations, local and globally connected via what- nothingness, as says the author, or a spatial-and-temporal network of wires and fibers, satellites, dishes, and microwave repeaters and towers.

next time if he follows the connection between his computer and the rest of the world beyond his power plug and switch, he might see there's a whole physical network of electrical artifacts which directly contradict his central thesis.

if there is no `space' in cyberspace -

how can there be any `time' in nettime?

if we follow the author's logic, then these statements would apply:

Temporal Discursions: Flames of the Digital and Ashes of the Real

The Genealogy of Dead Time

The Illusion of Community

Predatory Software Controls

The End of Nettime

The Triumph of Networking

the end of Nettime and Cyberspace are then described in this last section:

The Triumph of Networking
We began by watching space deform under the impact of transportation systems. What was important about this was not our typology of transformations but the fact that, regardless of these transformations, the end result was always a conceptual plane -- a space on which the subject and objects could be located, and across which they could move. We can consider this the organizing principle of spatiality.

We can oppose this to the organizing principle of networking. Here there is neither location nor movement, but only connection. Our hypothesis is that this principle is superceding the former; that the large-scale systems we compose are progressively migrating to it, and that we are adapting as well. If we have a thesis, it is that this movement of transition and adaptation is the central dynamic of our time.

We chose the term cyberspace to interrogate this movement -- as proposed originally to examine a moment of atavistic longing for spatiality, and as currently incarnated to establish the ramifications of its absence. We claimed that spatiality serves functions which are absorbed into systems as it deteriorates. And we concluded with the thought that it is more natural as well; and thus, to a certain extent, this transition represents a loss.

But this is a rather wishful coherence to attribute to our wanderings, and these are heavy claims to erect on the flimsy framework we've thrown together. We shall have to regard them as tentative. We examined distance and space from various angles; nothing more.


networked space, while paradigmatically different, still exists in traditional space. traditional notions of space are unlikely to disappear, just because another version of interpretation appears. and it is not completely set-apart from traditional space, but in some sense, extended from these notions. any look at the history of cartography or any discipline will show the connections between paradigms, however different. this text, instead of challenging the mythical dimensions of 'cyberspace' instead promotes the mythic dimension by making it non-spatial, which it might appear to be from some myopic vantages. seeing cyberspace, computer networks (tv,radio,phone+) as spatial opens up their connection to the electrical infrastructure, to wars for energy, to global warming, pollution, energy inefficiency, their role in the economy, in national security, et cetera.

being from San Francisco, i'd imagine the writer would have realized the connection between his computer and the rolling blackouts threatening the state from the 'non-spatial' network he writes from within. 33 million people share that cyberspace, but he apparently does not exist within it. "See - theory!"