PRINT February 2000

Norman M. Klein

IN THE NEXT DECADE, the PC “revolution” will shift direction, away from the desktop monitor and toward Palm Pilots, smart phones, slot machine programs, E-mail on your wrist, cameras small enough to swallow by mistake. The cybernetic globalized civilization will leave its monuments, both large and small: nano-miniaturization on the one hand, hypostatic mall/tourism on the other (any street can feel like a video game; we all become tourists in our own cities, if not our very bodies).
The digital honeymoon is over. An era of political action—in place of mere academic skepticism—may have begun. At least there seems to be growing awareness as to just how alienating digital capitalism can be. The demonstrations against the World Trade Organization last December in Seattle are merely one indicator of an inchoate but broad-based backlash. Other surprises are coming.
To be alert to the next stage, not as cyber-atchiks, but as coherent voices in our field, we “culturati” must revamp the way we use the Internet, see it more as a catalyst, as an incubator for animating digital objects and sending them into “real” space, where they enter various architectures, urban and global politics, scripted spaces of all sorts (from casinos to museums to metropolitanized suburbs). Special-effects environments and urban erasures were on my mind when I selected a few favorite sites.

Norman M. Klein is the author of The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory (Verso, 1997).