Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I have been thinking about our section discussion about the dendrites of the internet. The conversation in class about Foucault and power as a capillary in a larger network re-invigorated my interest. I wanted to compare the image of power circulating to the image of internet sites that no one sees (and is the end of a chain).

Where does stuff end? How is something truly erased? According to Galison, nothing can be entirely erased or obscured. I think about a conversation I had last year in Germany (where issues of security and secrecy are paramount). We were discussing the mortality of blog posts. I learned that even a deleted website still exists. A mirror or copies of it can rebound around the internet and servers for a few weeks or even forever. Even a secret “forgotten” or “erased” or geographically placed at the end of a “branch”, like a dendrite, is not secure. Can anything be truly deleted?

Even the advent of Google Alert makes those connections to far-flung dendrites or new secrets more visible. By attaching an alert to a word or idea, one gets an email/notice detailing the new information. The trails of secrets are now easily tracked. The mapping of new information is formalized and tracked itself.

The internet has made secrets harder to maintain, a sentiment Galison would appreciate.

Nick White

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