The Net Age does not refer to the contents of this web site or to the markup language (HTML) and the WWW that rides the infrastructure of the Net. What constitutes this new age is the hardware that is physically located throughout the planet transcending geographical, political, juridical, cultural and linguistic borders, linking devices that provide a network of connections that enables communication.
Similar in fashion to the invention of the printing press. It was the new technology that ushered a cultural revolution that eventually led to the Renaissance that transformed the politics and religions of Europe. The hardware was at the core of change. The printing and distribution of copies of the Bible at the outset were merely the result of the technological invention. The physical tool was the source of an evolutionary process that promoted literacy, individualism and the reshuffling of the hierarchy of power.
The web is currently the most popular markup language used in the world. That doesn’t mean that several other covert networks don’t exist. Most of them are likely related to state’s covert military and surveillance networks. As such, the web has evolved into a preferred tool of overlapping totalitarian surveillance systems that is corrupting the nature of communication and the sovereignty of the individual.
Powerful search engine use a self-serving mathematical justification of algorithms to promote the most popular pages not the content of the most relevant or innovative. These algorithms serve to enhance the scope and reach of already dominant systems and buries deep in its page rank creativity and progress.
However, the nature of the universe is such that any form of totalitarian system is doomed to failure and will eventually degenerate. The third law of motion states that to every emerging force/action there will be an equal opposing force/reaction. If this theory holds true we can expect that a novel code/language to already exist.
Human beings are creatures of habit and it will be hard to give up a system that is so pervasive and convenient. However, necessity is the mother of invention and deep in the abyss of the Internet wilderness a new markup language will spring to life and spread throughout the planetary network.
The principle behind the Net Age is the Internet as a medium. This novel tool is considered to be an engine of transformation in communication: The essence of spirituality. The latter is defined in terms of self-communication, with the added benefit of being connected to the outside world mediated by the Net. As a result it opens the way to a wholesome form of communication that permeates and transforms all aspects of life.
The name Gutenberg is associated with the invention of printing (circa 1450). The first book that came out of the press was the Bible. This was an important event in many respects since at that time the liturgy was strictly controlled by the Catholic Church in Rome through the preaching of the chair. The portable Bible shifted the authority of the Word of God from the hierarchy to its readers. It became available to a widespread number of intellectuals throughout Christendom, not all of whom looked kindly on the dominant papacy. Among them was the protestant Martin Luther. He was outraged by the sale of indulgences distributed in Germany by Tetzel. Rome was freely auctioning to the highest bidder an assured salvation and a choice place in heaven.
Printing put the authority of the Word of God in the hands of its reader: It shifted the power of the holy from the magisterium to the many.
Will the Internet have a similar impact on civilization as the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century? An invention that ushered the end of the Middle-Ages, promoted nationalism, rationalism and resulted in the Reformation and the Renaissance.
Since the mid twentieth century the implantation of TV in people’s living room has diverted the power of the word away from the priestly order. It surreptitiously displaced the temple as the center for the propagation of identity and solace. The preacher was no longer the only medium between the holy and the believer, the sole provider of the good news. As a result the mall became the choice destination for the congregation of fragmented solitudes. The theater replaced the church as the temple of choice as the purveyor of the supernatural.
The advent of the Net shifted the source of information and news away from the media. Top-down hierarchies are no longer the sole gate keepers of information. The individual can explore postings throughout the world without a predetermined programming framework.
One of the underlying meanings of Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” is, who owns the medium owns the message. The Internet put the power of the message in the hands of the individual ushering a new era of interactivism.
More recently corporate media has been fighting back to retake control of the information superhighway. A pyrrhic war over the control of the Net is ongoing. Nonetheless, we believed that the Net has a vital thrust of its own. It will bypass and circumvent any form of control.
In the beginning of the Net, the evangelists were responsible for the creation of subliminal inroads into ways of experiencing cyberspace. With the new medium, spirituality morphed into devoted connections and virtual commitments.
The fragmented self leaped onto the awesome omnipresence, omniscience and all-connecting infinity of cyberspace. And for the first time in human civilization, a communication dynamic challenged a hierarchical world order that has dominated our cultures since the beginning.
Is it just an odd twist of fate that our planet should have been wired like a cocoon just as we happen to enter the new millennium? Odder still: That the Net should have emerged from Arpanet, a military endeavor to escape MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction).
The communication evolution has brought a major shift in our social interaction, much of which is yet to be fully understood. From the outset man’s apperception of God has been that he is Lord of a hierarchical and mysterious power. The communication technologies have shifted the grounds of such power structures and have laid the blueprint for a non-linear linking phenomenon.
A shift is now occurring from an ancestral top-down power structure toward a dynamic interconnection that is both more emergent and convergent. This dynamic can also been seen in the invaluable contribution by open-source software and organizations. Open source dynamic is a shift away from traditional forms of production. Instead of being based on a hierarchical power scheme(s), open-source is generated by a gravitational force, not necessarily fueled by monetary gain but inspired by voluntary value added to a good cause.
We are well aware that the childlike innocence of the early days of the Internet are long gone. The Spirit of the Net is slowly becoming overshadowed by a hybrid media ─a merger between corporate world, advertising and the different applications within the Net. Fortunately there is still plenty of room for open source interactivism to flourish and expand. And since the Net is by nature subliminal, novel tools always emerge to bypass any intrusion to the immediacy and the communication nature of the Net.
In my essays I use a pluri-disciplinary approach to the study of text, in whatever form it may appear, particularly when it discloses a mythical form of expression. The term myth criticism was coined by Northrop Frye in his landmark work Anatomy of Criticism. Although literary criticism is a useful tool, myth criticism best captures some aspects of my field of research. A good measure of spiritual abreaction is also valuable. In the sense that spiritual concepts developed in the course of history of religion must be reevaluated and recycled in order to better describe the unfolding age ushered by the Internet.