Pschocyberographic Memoirs > Let Your Fingers Do the Drifting
"travelers in a labyrinth revealed by their wish to find it"
Verite applied to the web is simply called surfing. The web surfer
as flaneur. This concept was overworn as early as 1998. Generative
psychogeography is easy enough to apply the web. It's called a
linkbot (or an "intelligent agent" for those more anthropomorphically
inclined). Search engines send them out in droves to harvest pages
for their databases.
The problem is, merely automated psychocyberography is missing the
point of psychogeography. The point is not for a robot to re-map the
city. It's not the non-euclidian path in and of itself that
transforms the city; it's the fact that you as a subjective person
are walking the path, experiencing the ride along the way. Your
subjective experience is the transformative factor. Even if a bot
could cull images and text from its web journey and randomly assemble
them into a collage similar to Debord's _Memoires_, they would just
be the memoirs of the bot. Feel free to steal this tangential
concept and implement it. Entitle the piece "Memoirs of a Bot."
As incidentally transformative as reading Debord's _Memoires_ may be,
it can never be as transformative as experiencing the LI and
collaging _Memoires_ was to Debord himself.
Create a set of instructions for surfing the web (the web being
analogous to the modern city). Instead of saying "go down three
lights and turn left," the instructions might read "tab forward three
links and click." Instead of saying "follow a woman in a blue," the
instructions might read "click on the next linked image of a woman."
You may create these instructions with generative software, or simply
write them out the old school analog way (cf: non-digital
programming, Sol Lewitt's instruction-based drawings, John Cage's
aleatoric dice music). Whatever you do, don't let the software do
the actual surfing. Return the instructions to your human
user/patron/collaborator/pschocyberographer/margin walker and let her
do the actual surfing per your instructions.
Some suggested approaches:
Begin the whole journey at google. Get the user to search for a
phrase of her choosing. Once the results of the search are returned,
she can begin surfing down her path per your instructions.
Begin the whole journey in a blank browser window. Get the user to
choose a single word and type in her word plus ".com" in the
browser's URL field. verite.com, modern.com, booger.com, etc. Once
the site comes up, she can begin surfing down her path per your
Include instructions that occur off the web involving word
associations in the mind of the user. Incorporate search engines,
http://dictionary.com, http://thesaurus.com, and http://wikipedia.org
-- key word search sites which allowing the user to map these
semantic connections to online content. Semantic associations
between alchemy, chemistry, allergy, disease, and leisure, for
example, will yield much more interesting results than instructions
that say, "click on link 3. next, click on link 2." Thus the
surfing process becomes less a deconstruction of the web as an online
version of Madison Avenue, and more a deconstruction of the web as a
library of human knowledge.
Have contingent instructions for dead-ends and unorthodox site
architecture. The corporate web is much less contiguous and uniform
than the modern city.
Write instructions that allow the user to make her own subjective
choices. "Click on the link that seems most dangerous." "Click on
the link that most reminds you of your father."
Write instructions that occasionally force the reader to peruse the
text of the page, potentially banal as it may be. "Count the number
of indefinite prepositions on the page. If the number is odd, click
on the page's last link. If the number is even, click on the page's
Don't start the journey at a net art site like http://superbad.com .
That would be like going on a cybergeographic walk in an amusement
park funhouse. The "regular" experience is already disruptive as is.
(Although you are certainly free to steal this tangential concept and
implement it. Entitle the piece "Funhouse Cybergeography: Mirroring