Monday, October 07, 2002

Spaces and places
At the outset, I shall make the distinction between space (espace) and place (lieu) that delimits a field. A place (lieu) is the order (of whatever kind) in accord with which elements are distributed in relationships of coexistence. It thus excludes the possibility of two things being in the same location (place). The law of the "proper" rules in the place: the elements taken into consideration are beside one another, each situated in its own "proper" and distinct location, a location it defines. A place is thus an instantaneous configuration of positions. It implies and indication of stability.
A space exists when one takes into consideration vectors of direction, velocities and time variables. Thus space is composed of intersections of mobile elements. It is in a sense actuated by the ensemble of movements deployed within it. Space occurs as the effect produced by the operations that orient it, situate it, temporalize it, and make it function in a polyvalent unity of conflictual programs or contractual proximities. On this view, in relation to place, space is like the word when it's spoken, that is when it's caught in the ambiguity of an actualisation, transformed into a term dependent upon many different conventions, situated as the act of a present (or of a time), and modified by the transformations caused by successive contexts. In contradistinction to the place, it has thus none of the univocity or stability of a "proper."

Michel de Certeau:The Practice of Everyday Life.

If there is such a thing as Cyberspace, where, then, is Cyberplace? Where is the place in Cyber, where everything is aligned to everything else in a stable and proper manner, each element defined in relation to the others, each location distinct and defined? It is perhaps closer than imagined: each accessible item on the net defined in relation to every other through protocol. Protocol is exactly that, a definition of that which is proper, a structuring of elements in relation to other elements. Cyberplace then rests in the protocol of files and archives, of folders and domains, while Cyberspace is the movement through these places: the protocol in actualisation: the word spoken.

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