Lev Manovich splendidly described this thesis in his book The Language of New Media: "interacting with computerized data and media has been consistently framed in spatial terms." [pg 272, The Language of New Media] The magnitude of the unknown is yet another major feature of the internet that leads to its fascination. Since the days of lone cowboys facing the vast open plains have people felt compelled to be explorers of unknown domains. The internet strives to make users feel as if they are traversing these plains as Baudelaire's flČneur. Baudelaire's flČneur is the aimless wanderer: "only truly at home in one place- moving through the crowd" [pg 269, The Language of New Media] The flČneur explores the internet in great detail. Unlike the cowboy exploring endless expanses, the digital flČneur is unknowingly trapped within a 2 by 2 box called the World Wide Web; controlled by the illusion of distance. Distances on the net are covered in accordance with Tara McPherson's principle of scan-and-search. Scan-and-search is the web surfers' innate fear of "missing out". The philosophy behind the scan-and-search is the surfers' fear of staying on one site for too long. "Thus for the virtual flČneur, such operations as search, segmentation, hyperlinking, visualization, and data mining are more satisfying than just navigating through a simulation of a physical space." [pg. 275, The Language of New Media] Users believe they control the medium and where in the medium they may go, but in reality both are untrue.
Last modified 31 December 2006