1. Deleuze and Guattari are averse to using the term "chapter", with its implications of beginning and ending. Their "Authors' Note" reads: "[This book] is composed not of chapters but of 'plateaus'. ... To a certain extent, these plateaus may be read independently of one another, except the conclusion, which should be read at the end" (1987: xx). This open 'structure' is in line with the general theme of the book which is against constraining structure.
2. Goodchild also seems to suggest this dualism: "the rhizome is a style of thought opposed to the model of the tree, which is structural, genetic, and can be used as an abstract principle" (1996: 85; emphasis added).
3. Henceforth in this chapter, Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus will be referenced in the text by page number only.
4. A router is a machine which mediates the data traffic between a server computer and the rest of the Net. A network of routers forms a grid of connections, in which each router, with its server, is called a node. According to Hafner and Lyon, a set of rules for data exchange called TCP/IP (a combination of Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol) acts as a mediator between different computer platforms, and doubles as a data delivery system using packet-switching technology (1996: 223-237). In packet-switching analogous to the postal service information is broken up into packets; each packet has its own destination address, and forwards itself across the network until it reaches its final destination, where all the packets are reassembled (1996: 59-67). The physical medium of the connection whether copper wire, fibre optic cables or radio waves is of no consequence apart from speed and price differences.
5. Brian Massumi translates the word "proceeding" from the French "procès", which has a dual meaning: "a process, or way of proceeding, and a legal proceeding, or trial" (1987b: xvii).
6. Key figures in the early development of the Net include Douglas Engelbart, pioneer of the keyboard-and-screen interface, who was a radio operator during World War II, and later became interested in developing the human-computer interface (Hafner & Lyon, 1996: 65-6 & 113); J. C. R. Licklider, a psychologist with "broad, interdisciplinary interests" who was drawn into interactive computing after a chance encounter with Wesley Clark, a computer engineer who showed him how information could be displayed on video screens (1996: 27 & 32-4); Larry Roberts, a computer scientist who was also good at management (1996: 45); and of course Paul Baran, a computer engineer working in a firm contracting for military defence (1996: 54). See also Note 27.
7. According to Hafner and Lyon, the term "Internet" was borrowed from "Internet Protocol" and did not come into common usage until the mid-1980s (1996: 244). If the Net had been planned right from the beginning, one would have expected an official christening on the day the project was launched.
8. According to Hafner and Lyon, Baran was working for RAND Corporation in the US, which had defence contracts with the Air Force; RAND had an interest in developing communications networks to survive disasters, but had "limited success" (1996: 54-5).
9. According to Hafner and Lyon, Davies worked at the British National Physical Laboratory (1996: 64).
10. The acronyms stand for: File Transfer Protocol; Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol; and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.
11. TCP is in charge of data-packeting, error-correction and packet-reassembly, and IP is responsible for packet-routing (Hafner & Lyon, 1996: 236; December, 1996).
12. In other words, it is considerably faster for data traffic between Europe and Asia to travel though America. The logic of electronic distance is somewhat different from that of geographical distance. For a quick visual survey of backbone networks maintained by various organizations, see the following URLs, all accessed in August 1997: http://www.uu.net/network/world.html (UUNET's international backbone map); http://www.bbn.com/products/backbone.htm (BBN's T1 and T3 backbones in the US); http://www.cwi.net/pubweb/netmap.html (Cable & Wireless' international backbones); http://www.ibm.com/globalnetwork/inetbbon.htm (IBM's global backbone in 1996); http://nic.nasa.gov/ni/ni-world-lg.gif (NASA's INTERNET).
13. A senior vice president at Network Solutions has boasted about one of its name servers: "If you pull the plug out of the back of this baby, everything on the Internet would die in about two days" (quoted in Rushkoff, 1997).
14. Deleuze and Guattari repeat this point elsewhere in the same text. For instance: "There are knots of arborescence in rhizomes, and rhizomatic offshoots in roots" (20).
15. The quotation from Rosenstiehl and Petitot is part of the description of "acentered systems", of which the Net might be considered a good example, although it is more commonly referred to as a decentralized system. Although the Net's packet-switching technology is popularly described as being decentralized in the sense that data packets route themselves to their destinations without the intervention of any central agency the packets nevertheless need to consult a map of the entire Net at every node they pass through. The routing computer at every node obtains regular updates of this map from a central domain registry such as InterNIC.
16. See Note 6 for descriptions of Licklider and Engelbart.
17. An implication of Rothschild's claims is an equation of capitalism with nature, with all its inevitability. An earlier edition of Bionomics was subtitled The Inevitability of Capitalism. There is a dark side to this. See Note 30.
18. Another case which suggests this identity is John Conway's computer programme called The Game of Life. Based on a few simple rules, the cells in a grid appear to evolve in random, complex ways. The survival of an individual cell depends on its neighbouring cells it needs a number of neighbours to live, but too many neighbours cause it to die. The Game of Life displays a behaviour resembling life itself in some abstract fashion (Marshall & Zohar, 1997: 166-7).
19. Henceforth, all references to Kelly's Out of Control in this chapter will be given by their chapters and sections only.
20. Positive feedback loops do not always end up dissipating into new forms of order, however. In public address systems, the peak is simply maintained in the annoying high-pitched screech.
21. Much earlier, Licklider had the intuition that computers as communication technology would serve the process of democracy. He imagined greater citizen involvement in government, through networked home computers: "The political process ... would essentially be a giant teleconference, and a campaign would be a months-long series of communications among candidates, propagandists, commentators, political action groups, and voters" (quoted in Hafner & Lyon, 1996: 34).
22. This informational democracy is dampened to a limited extent by the various InterNIC organizations around the world serving the administrative function of assigning domain names to network computer servers. Network Solutions, which manages the US InterNIC registry (see Chapter 1), is one such organization which has the leverage to centralize Net traffic for its own profit (Rushkoff, 1997).
23. To recall Jonathan Swift's famous lines:
So Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em
And so proceed ad infinitum: (Quoted in Rothschild, 1990: 283)
24. Human users can therefore be considered the reproductive organs of printing machinery! This recalls Deleuze and Guattari's example of the wasp being the reproductive organ of the orchid (see Chapter 1).
25. Henceforth, the Clinton administration's A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce will be referred to as the Framework.
26. In March 1997, the Australian Parliament passed the Telecommunications Bill ("the Telstra Bills") which provided for local data calls to be charged on a timed basis (Watts, 1997). Australian ISPs have claimed that this move would give Telstra, which operates the country's telephone network infrastructure, an unfair advantage for its Big Pond Internet service, and eventually force the other ISPs out of business (Watts, 1997; WAIA, 1997).
27. More precisely, the Net was an academic initiative funded by the US government (Hafner & Lyon, 1996). Later, industry involvement saw a rapid proliferation of the Net. To quote Larry Smarr, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois: "The reason the US is so far ahead [in Internet technology] is because of this interaction between the federal government, universities and industry" (Jones, 1997). See also Note 6.
28. Although the Framework is careful not to exempt e-commerce from all taxes, it does state that "no new taxes should be imposed on Internet commerce" and that "no tax system should discriminate among types of commerce, nor should it create incentives that will change the nature or location of transactions" (Clinton & Gore, 1997). Schneiderman criticizes the Framework for failing to spell out exactly how it would achieve this in practice, and writes that it "is more of a wish than an answer" (1997).
29. According to Vesely, the Internet Tax Freedom Act currently under debate is opposed by "local and state governments ... saying the measure could inadvertently disrupt an important source of future revenue" (1997).
30. With reference to Note 17, this tragedy of capitalism represents a dark side which capitalism shares with nature the cruelty implicit in the survival of the fittest. The health of the overall system is maintained at the expense of the unfit who are relentlessly weeded out. This is precisely what collectivism sets out to avoid.
31. See also Note 12 for diagrams of actual backbone networks around the world.
32. Indeed, the use of the word "synergistic" in this sentence is a tautology. According to Marshall and Zohar, all relationships are synergistic: "In an important sense, all properties in the world are emergent to some extent, since all have an ultimate quantum foundation" (1997: 138).
33. The phonetic gui, literally translated from the Chinese, means "ghost", but is also associated with "soul" or "essence" in this case, an emergent essence.
|Internet: Chaos and Design||Contents | Introduction | Chapters 1 2 3 | Conclusion | References | Appendices A B|