Posted on June 28, 2010


And You Just Walk All Over Them

As I type this on an office Dell, shrouded by the clarity and presence of the monitor are an ever-winding series of cables. Tangled, dangled, and angled in all different manner of overlapping, this is another de facto mainstay in a world increasingly dependent on gizmos and gadgetry just to feel stimulated. Like the creeping, unwanted pounds that sneak up on today’s average sedentarion, bumbling masses of cords, cables, and wires are too often overlooked until too late. It started slowly, finessed; a few appliances here and there. Plugged into the three-prong wall outlet, a solitary cable nestled and left to collect dust. Something happens. It breaks, he gets a new appliance, she gets a new appliance, the kids get new noise-makers that drag behind their bulk a single, extended, insulated tail. The tails tie and wrap and rope each other into an electric knot jungle.

Eating Itself In And Out

You, average denizen of our digitized, customized, sanitized, reality: how many wires litter your household? On coffee pots, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, refrigerators, toasters, leaf blowers, headphones, ear phones, hair driers, electric stoves, clock-radios, goddamn electric blankets, Blu-Ray/DVD players, cable boxes, televisions, lamps, blenders, electric razors, video-game consoles, laptops, and craptops—(and then also)—routers, connectors, adapters, and chargers. Power strips and extension cords wired to keep us more wired. The compactness and functionality of the components attached to them melts before us, devalued when we are to wade through our own self-imposed seas of electric cable.

And yet without them we would surely panic and shortly perish.

The range of the tangled power plug mess, once self-limiting, is now self-expansive as we become interconnected through them. There’s that old joke about the Internet as a “series of tubes” that sounds ridiculous to anyone with basic computing knowledge. When you give it thought however, the Internet is a platform you can only access through a cable-connected network directly through your P.C., laptop, whatever. Even if you’re a WiFi-exclusive user, your (or your neighbor’s) network has to be physically linked to something in order for it to work. A plug, a switch, sure, but Ted Stephens wouldn’t have been too far off the mark if only his analogy was applied within the context of data connectivity. As we coast through uncharted wireless waters, the network of networks that keeps it all together looms invisible to our attention. Even if you’re a veteran student of network theory, it’s likely that the essence of what these networks constitute would blow your fucking mind. What is it essentially? A globally combined technological web coiled in itself, bloating in volume as use escalates to freakish heights. Jacked into the World Wide Web, polymer-encased filaments of copper wire are all that keeps us physically separate from the data for which we hunger. The chaotic metamorphosis of electric signals that are transduced, melded by sensors, processed, and converted into a user-friendly display is the life cycle of data. That information pool by which we run our lives.

Twisted Yet Operational

Reduce that compendium of raw data to the sum of its parts and the large scale what we’re left with amounts to a confluence of signals dancing on wires that snake in, out, around, and about one household to the next, to the next, to the first, to the last.

(image © Gearfuse.com)

Like weeds programmed to grow anywhere you go.

The first electrical plug and socket were invented in 1904. You could say it started there. By the 20s they were widespread, though their use was limited to light bulbs, lamps, electric fans, and other such household amenities. Give or take a few, ninety years go by and now it’s like outlets are their own commodity, with your personal cable heap becoming a status symbol. Barely a century after their inception, we’re at a precipice now in this year 2010 of a world in which the wires may soon find themselves in a new role. Enter(:) the wireless revolution. Limited in use and scope for now, true, but as technologies develop so do their applications; where wires cannot physically/materially reach, bastardized electrical energies will migrate without the need for them and literally every open area in which developed peoples live and thrive and the air will pulse with relentless exchanges of data. Though unclear how likely the case

(photo ©redit goes to Hulton Getty through © Guardian News & Media Limited)

may be, it’s possible that electrical wires will another one of man’s past inventions to be completely entombed in obsolescence. Pure

speculation on my part, my money is more on the idea that the wires we’ve forged will form the foundation, as they already have somewhat, or the skeleton, if you will, of our wireless cyber-industrial society. Each one as common to us as a sole blade of grass, the wires of today will be the forgotten floorboards of tomorrow. Or maybe the tangled worldwide web will continue to expand and eat us all, who knows.