Presentation Title

Speculative Ontology of the Internet: A Digital Prometheus

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#133

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

In Folklore, Horror Stories, & the Slender Man: The Development of an Internet Mythology, Shira Chess and Eric Newsom describe how the Slender Man mythology evolved in response to a murder committed by two teenage girls who claimed to be acting on behalf of Slender Man. They coin the term digital campfire to describe “an online arena where users gather for the specific purpose of story swapping” (78). The digital campfires that propagate on digital horror forums express an overt fear of the internet-in-itself. But what does it mean to consider the internet as a thing-in-itself?

Drawing on previous scholarship by Eugene Thacker and Graham Harman, this paper will consider an internet-in-itself framed within existing work on the darknet. The concept of an internet essence existing outside of the perception of humans currently exists in the idea of the darknet. The darknet can colloquially be defined as networks not typically available to the average internet user and it serves an explicitly illegal function. This paper will use this definition as a basis for the darknet, but will draw upon digital horror texts to bridge the gap between the colloquial definition and the argued definition of an internet-in-itself.

The texts examined in this paper include: “Normal Porn for Normal People”, and a series of .filename stories which are formulaic stories in which an unwary internet user stumbles upon a file which either causes madness, death, or harm. Each of the texts form a part of the proposed definition of the internet-in-itself. The internet-in-itself, in the tradition of things-in-themselves, exists outside the normal perception of the human. Despite being an object created, curated, and maintained by humans, the internet-in-itself does not care for or consider humans. Finally, this paper will consider the horror of the internet-in-itself existing a mere click away from traditional digital content.

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Nov 12th, 4:00 PM Nov 12th, 5:00 PM

Speculative Ontology of the Internet: A Digital Prometheus

HUB 302-#133

In Folklore, Horror Stories, & the Slender Man: The Development of an Internet Mythology, Shira Chess and Eric Newsom describe how the Slender Man mythology evolved in response to a murder committed by two teenage girls who claimed to be acting on behalf of Slender Man. They coin the term digital campfire to describe “an online arena where users gather for the specific purpose of story swapping” (78). The digital campfires that propagate on digital horror forums express an overt fear of the internet-in-itself. But what does it mean to consider the internet as a thing-in-itself?

Drawing on previous scholarship by Eugene Thacker and Graham Harman, this paper will consider an internet-in-itself framed within existing work on the darknet. The concept of an internet essence existing outside of the perception of humans currently exists in the idea of the darknet. The darknet can colloquially be defined as networks not typically available to the average internet user and it serves an explicitly illegal function. This paper will use this definition as a basis for the darknet, but will draw upon digital horror texts to bridge the gap between the colloquial definition and the argued definition of an internet-in-itself.

The texts examined in this paper include: “Normal Porn for Normal People”, and a series of .filename stories which are formulaic stories in which an unwary internet user stumbles upon a file which either causes madness, death, or harm. Each of the texts form a part of the proposed definition of the internet-in-itself. The internet-in-itself, in the tradition of things-in-themselves, exists outside the normal perception of the human. Despite being an object created, curated, and maintained by humans, the internet-in-itself does not care for or consider humans. Finally, this paper will consider the horror of the internet-in-itself existing a mere click away from traditional digital content.