chapter  23
Network Subjects: or, The Ghost is the Message
Pages 11

It has widely been argued that there is not much new about the new media. It was in 1971, for example, that Roy Ascott established "electric media" as a degree program at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto. By 1984, Ascott was promoting the interactive "electronic space" as being of "evolutionary significance:' Writing in the same year in William Gibson first introduced the term cyberspace, Ascott asserted: "The true consequence of the combination of art and electronic information technology will not properly be seen until there is universal availability at very low cost of the means of transmission of digital information within a planetary interactive network embracing the audio, visual, and dataltext modes. Even at this stage of development we can sense the emergence of a planetary consciousness which I call 'network consciousness:"l While Ascott's rather odd mix of Darwin and Hegel is representative of the intellectual moment in which he was writing, his technological forecast seems accurate, if not quite fulfilled. The network, like the ghost, is from the past but is still yet to come. It might be said that digital criticism is developing an awareness of past, present and future networked subjects. The question is precisely how those modes of subjectivity are related and who may inhabit them, both now and in the past.