DIGITAL VERTIGO Manifesto by Marco Santoro e Paolo Magaudda
Human history began some 2.5 million years ago and, for hundreds and thousands of years, it has developed extraordinarily slowly.
Then an incredible and amazing new technology occurred around 50,000 years ago: writing. From that moment began a wild ride that went faster and faster in a race that promised human beings to conquer the whole planet, to touch down on the moon, to reach the depths of the oceans, to travel faster and to communicate with each other over enormous distances. Expressing itself technologically, socially and culturally over the past fifty years, this ride has found yet another push in the global network of digital communication. Our race has become even faster with impossible limits. Everything now courses by our eyes rapidly and unfettered and it all has started to seem precarious on the verge of being surpassed. Without looking back, we have gone on to where we are today: on the top of a mountain on the edge of a precipice from which we see an endless digital landscape made of wires, bits, people, symbols and relationships. It is exciting and scary at the same time and represents a real digital vertigo that at once destabilizes and attracts us.
Digital vertigo expands our individual sensory experience, but, like any perceptual distortion, it also calls for greater command because we can imagine things that are not there, that perhaps will be or could be there. Just like Ulrich from Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, we live with a sense of infinite possibilities that we find hard to deal with a sense of reality that is increasingly more virtual, though not less efficient nor less productive nor less “real” than reality. Everything seems to liquefy in a world that seems – as sustained by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman – more and more liquid; in a world in which all that was solid now seems to exist only in memory. But can it be true? Or is it this digital vertigo that distorts our senses and our perception of reality, a reality still fraught with contradictions, underpinned by critical moments and marked by growing, and even digital, inequalities?