What changes and what stays almost the same in the experience of abandonment and ruin as one travels through digital-analog space? This socially created, technologically mediated, transduced space deforms, re-forms, informs, conforms, confounds, conjoins the experiences of human and machine individuation and collectivity moment to moment, each arising as ephemeral wholes dependent on their decaying parts. Cybogologist, Sara Wanenchek’s most recent post raises a number of questions about the interplay among Politics, Ruin and Digital Space, investigating the politics of the arising, enduring and ceasing of digital spaces.
When we look at ruined places, abandoned places, we’re always looking at politics, and the kinds of politics depend on a number of different variables. A place that is ruined but not abandoned implies some very disturbing things. A place that is completely abandoned but somehow not ruined suggests the unexpected. Time isn’t the only thing that twists back on itself.
Coded spaces create a kind of invisibility to the revealing their creation entails. in terms of speech rather than sight, coded spaces create a kind of political aphasia.
Aphasia is a dismembering, a difficulty speaking, a difficulty generating a vocabulary that associates appropriate words and concepts with appropriate things. Aphasia in its many forms describes a difficulty retrieving both conceptual and lexical vocabularies and, most important, a difficulty comprehending what is spoken. Colonial Aphasia: Race and Disabled Histories in France Ann Laura Stoler
I agree with Sara, there is likely a significant political content to the decay and abandonment of digital spaces. But in trying to generate the “conceptual and lexical vocabularies” to investigate these phenomenon, I experience the cognitive seizing up present when my aphasia is strongest and I see the faces of my partners in conversation reflect kind confusion.
So what to do?
Let me try this to perhaps mimic ruin, and in a way, abandonment, of digital spaces in the following way:
The website Random.org allows users to generate a variety of random number sequences. I use the word “random” knowing it is a contested term. This website states its “randomness comes from atmospheric noise, which for many purposes is better than pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs.” This is appealing to me because as “radio noise caused by natural atmospheric processes” it is a form of weather, an important agent in the decay and ruin of analog sites.
I will use this to generate a random list from 1 to 661, corresponding to the words and numbers in the body of this post. Starting in a couple of days, for the following 7 weeks, each day I will cut words and numbers from this post and paste them below in the order of that list. So for example, if 56 is the first number in the random list, the 56th word of this post will be the first word cut and pasted below. So eventually, this process will rearrange all the words and numbers here, into a jumble, like a collapsed building. Punctuation will be retained by the closest word. I will not preserve or destroy hyperlinks or text formatting as a separate process.
I will do this over 7 weeks because that is the maximum length of time Tibetan Buddhist tradition says one can be in the bardos, the state of existence between one’s present life and the next one.
After that, I might continue the process again, perhaps taking it up as a daily spiritual practice until I am no longer able. Or I might become bored with it and leave it as it sits after the first iteration.
At any rate, my purpose is to see if this process sheds any light, to hear if it creates any harmonious sound, to smell, taste and feel anything that helps to better understand the ruin and abandonment of digital spaces.
Note: I have named this post “Post #74” as an address or coordinates that stays constant even as the structure there deteriorates.