Redefining “space” in a digital world

“The blue sky above us is the optical layer of the atmosphere, the gret lens of the terrestrial glove, is brilliant retina. From the ultra-marine, beyond the sea, to the ultra-sky, the horizon divides opacity from transparancy. It is just one small step from earth-matter to space-light – a leap or a take-off able to free us for a moment from gravity”— Paul Virilio, Open Sky

If you head is spinning, you’re not the only one. As I began reading Open Sky, I was convinced I purchased the wrong book. After all, how does “learning to fly” and “swimming in ether” have anything to do with digital communication?

According to Virilio, “Everything is being turned on its head,” so I did my best to connect Virilio’s abstract ideas to the media and quickly discovered that I do have the right book after all and Virilio certainly has some interesting points to make.

Virilio talks about how geographic space has been redefined. Digital media plays a big role in redefining geographic space. Communication is no longer dependent upon where you are physically situated or who you are with. We send emails, host chat forums, and Skype with people across the globe. Virilio describes this notion as “being telepresent” or being “here and elsewhere, at the same time, in this so-called ‘real time.’”

What are the pros and cons of this redefined geographic space that digital media creates? How does being “telepresent” impact relationships?


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