Cartography of Leisure

“As soon as the World Wide Web became a popular medium across the 1990s, the problem of its cartography was given. The cleverest solution to the navigation of the WWW came from Google’s PageRank algorithm. The first datacenter set up by Google in 1998 […] was the first to start mapping the internet on a global scale via vectors of ranking.” As Matteo Pasquinelli argues in his article Meta-data Society, the web did not necessarily imply the horizontal free exchange of information that technological utopians once heralded. Instead, Google’s PageRank algorithm sorted the accumulation of information as towering, hierarchical lists of links — a scroll that was, nonetheless, regarded as self-evident and, thus, achieved to remain undetected. The social ramifications of the humble list of links went unnoticed until its aesthetic or experiential excess, that is the scroll, was explicitly exploited. This dangerous supplement disavowed linked lists as purely informational tools; as mere maps of the web. Yet, it also consolidated them as the imaginary and symbolic infrastructure determining agency in the metadata society. In the software-mediated world wide web, the map preceded the territory: with the aestheticization of lists came along the configuration of novel list-like aesthetic experiences. And, therefore, cultural processes re-signifying leisure as the divided labor of these artificial spaces.