PRINT February 2005


Tom Vanderbilt on the Yes Men

JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD famously described postmodernism as “incredulity toward metanarratives.” But lately I have thought a more apt characterization would be “incredulity toward MetaFilter,” using the popular blog ( as a metaphor for all Internet information, which arrives in such volume and with so many hallmarks of legitimacy as to strain the usual measures of veracity. For example, I was recently alerted by MetaFilter to the existence of a gated community near São Paulo called AlphaVille. This seemed an elaborate joke—a cluster of guarded villas named for Jean-Luc Godard’s techno-pulp metropolis, where free expression, art, and even love had been outlawed? AlphaVille’s website depicted a self-contained heterotopia-in-the-sun straight from J.G. Ballard’s novel Super-Cannes (2001), but I was still skeptical. Websites can be faked (think of those e-mails with credible subject

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