Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wed Section, Space to be conquered?

"With its metaphors of navigation and homesteading," the internet is a lot like the frontier of the American west. The idea of being able to conquer the internet, this endless abyss, requires that the web be spatialized into a map, or outlined once someone discovers new places. Movies and video games have given us a vision of the internet to that stays in our heads while we are surfing the web, but in reality there is no way that a physical map of the internet could ever exist.

Instead of being made of places, as we discussed in class on Monday, the internet is more of a space. A space to explore, learn, and speak opinions. Instead of being able to create a map of locations and places, websites give us space to leave our opinion. We leave our mark via blogging, commenting, and sharing files. These message boards and online discussions are proof that humans explore the new frontier, even if nothing physical can be mapped.

Reading other people's posts remind the user that they are not the first to explore a particular site. While exploring western America was a race to see who could discover places first, the internet is the exact opposite. The longer you wait to visit a site after it is created/posted, the more interesting it is to read as you can materialize other opinions and see the marks they left behind.

The only case in which this isn't true is when shopping online. If one waits too long to log on and purchase items, certain items may be sold out. While this is an elementary use of the internet, this proves an interesting connection between the internet being an ethereal space vs. physical place. Online actions that are materialized (ie, something physical is delivered that you virtually ordered) do not fit into the theory that one can always wait to visit the site. The site itself will will exist for a very long period of time, but items may be sold out quickly. Uses of the internet that provide tangible results need to be treated differently than blogs and opinion sites.

As Manovich explains, "navigable space is subjective space, its architecture responding to the subject's movement and emotion." Most websites, other than shopping sites, will exist for months, even years, for users to revisit and take note of all the other users that left their mark behind.

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