Internet: Towards a Holistic Ontology       Contents | Introduction | Chapters 1 2 3 | Notes | References | Appendices A B

Actualizing the Potentialities


At the end of Chapter 1, we quoted Deleuze and Guattari on arborescent and rhizomatic structures: "the same thing is generally susceptible to both modes of calculation or both types of regulation, but not without undergoing a change in state" (1987: 17); and we asked the question: what is this change in state?  The answer, I suspect, lies in a quantum shift from potentiality to actuality, both of which exist in multiplicity.

     In these chapters, we have seen how the Net can be both tree and rhizome; collectivism and capitalism; clockware and swarmware; chaos and design.  Banks, in his Masters dissertation, neatly expresses what I have to say about these dualities:

The test for these concepts should not be whether they provide an adequate representation of technologies, but whether they enable a pragmatics that links with the singularities of our engagements with technologies, and whether they enable us to do things with technology that link with a potential to disrupt and challenge the gridding, striating, forces of technological rationalism.  (1996: 121)

While the Net has often been lauded as a tool for democracy (Barlow, 1996; Katz, 1996), it has nevertheless taken root — albeit in a different form — under China's communist regime (Barmé & Ye, 1997).  The Net is able to actualize itself under a wide spectrum of political, economic and social systems because of its fluidity.  In other words, its technology exists as a multiplicity of potentialities, all of which may be actualized — and many have.

     This begs further questions: As long as actualized potentialities remain connected on the global Net, how do they affect, or try not to be affected by, one another?  While holistic development of systems may encourage or even require diversity, how do the webs of inter-relations come into play?  What will be the degree of coevolution between these actualizations, what form will it take, and what will determine this?  What potentialities are allowed to be actualized at all within this grid of inter-relations?  With these, I invite further exploration.


List of References