The Rise of the Object

A number of pieces have washed in over the transom over the last few days. Even more than postmodernism, Network Culture thrives on the paranoiac construction of connections and this post to varnelis.net has turned into precisely such a venture. Make your own flowchart if this one leads to madness.

First, John Southern sends this piece, Machines and objects to overtake humans on the Internet, on the prediction by the UN's telecommunications agency, the International Telecommunication Unit, that in future decades there will be tens of billions of objects connected to the Internet, leaving human users a distinct second. If the Internet becomes a vast grid capable of metering the world, what use will we put that too? Bruce Sterling is our theorist for this project, suggesting that the result is an informational universe composed of what he calls Spimes.

But where is this all leading to? At BoingBoing Xeni Jardin blogs historian George Dyson's article Turing's Cathedral, a reflection on his visit to Google. In response to a statement by a Google employee that print.google.com's project of scanning vast libraries of literature is not so much to make the material available for humans but to provide reading material for an AI (Artificial Intelligence). Dyson points out that with the sum of the world's knowledge on the Internet, connections previously unimagined and undreamed of will soon become possible. Is it coincidence that Google is a word coined by a nine year old? Google, on the other hand. denies these rumors. Or at least is sidestepping them.

With all that in mind, as I read Lev Manovich's piece on Remix and Remixability and pondered the self-remixing functions of the Soft Cinema DVD that Lev and Andreas Kratky produced, I wondered if we weren't really looking at yet another case of art acting as a kind of research and development engine or prototyping unit for society at large? In other words, might all of our interest in the possiblities of remix be a dress rehearsal for a world in which somebody else might be doing the remixing?