Internet vs. postmodernism?

"Postmodernism" is a vague term that often contains contradictory models and ideas. The common denominator seems to be chaos, of impressions, of expressions, received in societies described as multicultural. One of the commonly mentioned effects of this is the death of narratives at least, the death of the big "meta-narratives". The world is broken down in small, non-coherent epics in daily news reports. Apart from these epics, the "story", is dead..

The most important new medium of the "post-modern" age, the Internet, has some characteristics that differ from or contradict these traits of our time. The revolutionary idea behind hypertext was to imitate the way our brain works through associations, by linking text and graphics through a computer network. Thus, the Internet exposes contexts.

Net surfers do it with links. And what are links, unless signs of a logic, a continuity through the cyberspace universe? The whole idea of links has a sense of epic, from this point to that point through a logical connection.

Most browsers keep a log, a list of visited sites. The frequent term for this list, is a new reminder of how surfing may feel epic: it is called "history" Will the Internet help recover the epic feeling from post-modern chaos?


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From Rena Moir     on 2002-12-05 18:49:47

I heartily disagree with your bleak view of postmodernism. Narrative has not died, not by any means (I'm a filmmaker I should know). Rather, because of the non-linear nature of a computer, and the internet, today people create their own narratives, like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book.

The "history" log on browsers will not bring us back to antiquity, it merely represents exactly how postmodern we have become: history is no longer considered absolute, but as a flux.

Heh, heh, anyway, I enjoyed your website nonetheless, but I hope you will reconsider your stance on postmodernism and the internet.


From Ernest Wilde     on 2007-04-29 19:39:36

I think you have twisted Lyotard's concept of the narrative. A narrative is not a news report it is a system of knowledge with prescribed ideas. An example of a meta-narrative would be Humanism or Marxism. A web page is not the kind of narrative Lyotard believes is dying. The internet is not some sort of messianic tool that PoMo philosophers believe will "recover the epic feeling from post-modern chaos", it is in fact just the manifestation of the ideas of many PoMo thinkers. Foucault's voyeurism, Baudrillard's hypereality, etc.