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memex

“Data Fragmentation” as the main theme of this year’s ‘Track’ exhibition points to a new topology to be discovered in order to understand and give form to the social networks which are formed with the emergence and pervasion of Internet as to create social and cultural phenomena. One of these phenomena is ‘web 2.0’. ‘web 2.0’ is an abstract concept justified with no technological update or a concrete reason. Within this framework this article will deal with two issues: ontology of the fragmented data and its behavioral similarity with the global capital in the 21st century. For this I will try to examine ‘web 2.0’ and the motivation of the user to share and participate in the context of technology history with a reference to memex as it is a main reference in computer history.

While industrial revolution enabled mechanical reproduction next paradigm shift was the invention of the Turing Machine. Distribution of digital data and the ability to produce exactly the same copy of the original has changed both economic order and social network structures.

memex, the acronym for “memory extender”, is the temporary name given to theoretical computer design which is known as the basics of today’s modern computers since Vannevar Bush’s article titled “As We May Think”. Even though this name is a temporary one it may help us understand contemporary computer networks’ function and behavior. Postulations put by memex includes early versions of concepts such as Internet, hypertext, speech recognition and GUI (Graphical User Interface). Bush’s prevision is as such:

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, ”memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

Reading this prevision reminds me of one of the frequently encountered phrases in the social networks on the Internet: “I love my computer because my friends live in it!” Let us think about the analysis recalled by the name through an example: I watch a video recorded on the hard disk of my computer, I like it and save it. Accordingly I send the copy (the original copy) of this file to one of my friends living in the computer. There might be two reasons for this act: 1. Sending a social message. 2. To back up the digital file. The first reason should be justified with sociological and psychoanalytical methods, which are beyond the scope of this article. The second reason is definitively “data fragmentation”. From this act on even if our hard disk is damaged or we somehow have to delete the file we still can reach and have the original copy. This structure, more formally entitled as P2P, guarantees the existence of data, keeping it in circulation and provokes the formation of new data from the traces of circulating data.

Today, server based networks are being replaced by user based networks. Henceforth data is secure and functional as long as it is in circulation. Data being shared from one center (server) is under threat of attack, natural disasters or counter guerilla. Economic crisis, which started in the US and spread all around the world, and its precaution suggestions showed that capital and data are not acting in different manners under same social and political effects. If we take Wall Street as a server, the solution proposal appreciated at the last presidential elections in the US offers a P2P economic model. With the new model, instead of a Wall Street centered economic system, the public who had to share the loss of the power and capital pivots is pulled into the economic system, the network and becomes a node, a peer in the network structure. Consequently missions of the flooded, account messing, bulky institutions are distributed to the users of money that is the public. Capital is secured through its fragmentation.

Today, in the global scale, data as well as capital is secure and accessible as long as it is fragmented, not crowded. Circulation and transformation of data are generating new data sources. Within this context the Internet should be considered as a networked mechanism, which constitutes the accumulation and permanency of the data. To imagine that a notion like ‘web 2.0’ which is presented with naturally well connoted keywords like share and participation represents a structure that guarantees the freedom of the individual through suspension of the direct relation between the power nodes and the individual, keeping in mind that the notion does not have a scientific background is only wishful thinking. memex proposal is realized but not yet updated.

Ahmet Atıf Akın, MSc.
Istanbul Bilgi University Visual Communication Design Department
Full Time Academic Staff

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