chapter  4
Digital unworld(s)
The Bielefeld Conspiracy
ByYvette Granata
Pages 15

This chapter thinks through production and erasure practices enabled by software via the lens of the ‘The Bielefeld Conspiracy,’ an internet phenomenon from the 1990s that claimed that the real German city of Bielefeld did not exist. While in 2002, Nigel Thrift and Shaun French claimed that ubiquitous software indicated that software now produces urban space itself, the author looks to the opposite phenomena of ubiquitous deletion practices and the manner in which digital erasure is now equally a part of our digital existence. Through analysis of various erasure effects, data and digital practices of deletion, the author thinks through the Bielefeld Conspiracy as a contemporary phenomenon in conjunction with philosophies of New Realism, such as Markus Gabriel’s meta-metaphysical nihilism which claims, similar to Bielefeld, that ‘the World does not Exist.’ The author ultimately charts the ontology of digital erasure as the production of what the author calls the ‘digital unworld’ – the structurally supported digital ontology of ubiquitous erasure.