I’ve just re-read Paul Virilio’s "Cyberspace Alarm!" essay. He says something very interesting about the way cyberspace is adjusting contemporary perspectives. He says in that Virilio kind of way that cyberspace has created a tactile perspective. To see at a distance, to hear at a distance, are perspectives introduced by the old media. Cyberspace introduces contact at a distance – or telecontact.
So, as the world virtualizes, we in fact have the perception of contact with it. That’s a complicated irony. One to which we could devote a good deal of time struggling over. Telecontact for Virilio is absolutely inauthentic. It is a lie constructed in self-defense as we are disoriented and entangled in cyberspace. It is, what he calls, a technique of dissuasion – a method of combating the information bomb.
I’m interested in Virilio’s perspective, but only insofar as he would acknowledge that our new perspective is something other than a lie. That telecontact is a legitimite desire that does not necessarily replace actual contact, but supplements it. I take this one step further in an essay I’m working on entitled "Becoming Data". I suggest that the perspective manufactured by the digital culture is such that we experience ourselves being experienced over networks. That consciousness is in fact distributed over networks as actions are represented in networks. I am always consuming other people as I traverse the various vertices of my life; likewise, I am consumed by others by virtue of being in the network. This is, I argue, the foundation of a new perspective that distributes not only time and space, but consciousness and experience.