We tend to look at the internet as an entirely new phenomena, but isn't it simply an accelerated successor to books and letters? Following in the theme that we were always already cyborgs, what, other than the speed of response and the sheer volume of text now being generated, differentiates the internet from the world of print and writing that proceeded it?
I have been wondering for some time about the frequency of my internet use... I am constantly looking things up, often via the Wikipedia. I have severe questions about the epistemological validity of the Wikipedia, which is to say, I believe its claims at presenting "knowledge" are even weaker than these claims usually are, but I still use it. I use it as a source of trivia - to see what the internet geeks collectively think. Some information (precisely that information one might need in a "pub quiz") is well provided for... much is dreadfully presented, confused, or just plain incorrect. But it still serves as a useful point of revision, even if I often suspect it's content.
Before I could google a topic and find a wiki entry, I turned to my reference books - encyclopedias and dictionaries, specialist references and technical manuals. I still prefer to do so. But I can only do this from within reach of my bookcases - with an iphone in my pocket I can look up something on the internet from practically anywhere. The reliability of the information is certainly lower on the internet, but the ubiquity of access is phenomenal. (And to be fair, my reference books are also often in error - particularly on subjects with a high rate-of-change, such as a great many scientific fields, where knowledge is not so much "revealed" as it is "constructed", not to mention the fluid national borders of geography).
In his 1984 essay Hypomnemata, Michel Foucault comments that the arrival of notebooks in Plato's time were as disruptive then as the arrival of the computer has been now - he sees the ancient Greeks as using these notebooks as external memory, and as a means of building a relationship with oneself. Joanna Zylinska sees this same theme in the modern blog.
We don't tend to see the person with a notebook as a cyborg, yet it is easy to see the person with an iphone as something of a cyborg (and even easier if we imagine implanting an iphone)... the science fiction narratives we have encountered presuppose that the cyborg's technology must be electronic in nature, and that it must become one with the flesh. But there is no need for it to be this way. The person with a notebook is also a cyborg of a kind... who they are, what they can be is radically altered by their interaction with technology, as it was for Plato.
Thus, the internet can be seen as a step along a path that began with language, written language, and eventually print media. Nothing the internet allows us to do was impossible previously - even virtual worlds - it just took far longer before the computer. We've had six millenia of writing, and nearly fifteen hundred years of printing. For how long, I wonder, will the internet serve as the backdrop to a technological era?
I'm uncertain how to attribute the opening image, it may be a book cover commissioned by Brian Judd. As ever no copyright infringement is intended and I will take the image down at the lawful copyright holder's request.