The Public, Private and Secret Life of A Network Publisher Amerika Online

The Public, Private and Secret Life
of A Network Publisher

Mark Amerika

My intranet is peaking. The neurological webwork that circulates my imaginative discourse for me is taking over in ways that make all other facets of my supposed "self" ready to concede. But concede what?

Making concessions is not what a network publisher does. Rather, a network publisher says things like "of course we're not making a profit now. To be making a profit now would be the equivalent of saying that we have no long-term plan. Let me make this perfectly clear: we have a long-term plan."

But what kind of long-term plan could a network publisher have? Especially when considering the speculative fiction that is passing itself off as the new media industry. The cast of characters circulating through this intranet of endless vaporware aren't being developed by hacker-driven authoring tools created so as to positively change the course of humankind. They are created by marketing engineers who see an opportunity worth cashing in on.

Forget the New-Age revolutionary-speak that talks about saving the world and getting rich doing it. Saving the world is as crazy as saving a soul from the bowels of hell -- besides, hell, as Sartre pointed out, is other people -- so let's cut the crap and be honest with ourselves: we aren't out to "empower" anyone. We're here to become rich and famous, wired and well-liked. And if someone out there is attracted to us for our own special brand-name consciousness teleporting itself into the electrosphere, then that's all the better -- personalized groupies have a knack for stroking us better than anyone.

But still there's this need to take your creation, your novelistic add-on, and try to go public with it. Alt-X has been going public since its inception in early 1994 when software engineers and computer scientists were sending us email telling us that finally something of radical substance was making its way into cyberspace. Then more and more university-connected Digital Beings came online (faculty, grad students, undergrads), especially from various Humanties departments, and we started hearing from them. Once America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy and other commercial services opened up their gateways to the WWW, we were flooded with emails from their customers who sounded like prisoners being let out of a banal-content cage (it reminded me of that movie by Woody Allen, SLEEPER, where researchers asked Woody if this videotape of sportscaster Howard Cosell was used as a method of punishment and Woody, after a short reflection, said "yes.").

Now with the surging entry of all of these start-up Interet Service Providers and the soon-to-be-available "easy" access provided by telcos and cable TV honchos, one is forced to ask what are the near-term projections for this object-oriented marketplace of shifting iconography? It depends on how successful the end-product blows us away, yes? Isn't that why we're here, in cyberspace? To be blown (away). But if all we're rushing toward is bad WEB TV, then the controlling forces of banality will have succesfully monopolized our sagging imaginations yet again and the commercial captains of consciousness will make a toast "to the celebrated end of an antagonsim that has grown so weak that even the poverty-stricken feel indebted to us for their mere survival."

Lived reality is spectacularly fragmented and labeled in mediatic categories that measure the net-value of the communicative spirit as it races across the screen. TV screen, computer screen, screen of your fluid mind becoming lived content. The sediment of lived content is what circulates throughout our intranet, possessing us of the will to desire. Yet desire itself, coded into the electrical currencies of a language fashioned as nothing but pure marketing presence, desires only one thing: the totality of its own experience as experienced in the simultaneous explosion of intranets everywhere.

Meanwhile, my intranet consumes your desire. Your desire translates this consumption-pattern as a kind of narrative power and places value on the accessibility you have to link to my intranet operation. Together, we become another cyberspace moment.

Here is where consciousness is mediated -- our network potential is what leads the speculative fiction (vaporware-for-itself) to develop our market value for us. It is a dictator over subjectivity but is, at the same time, nothing but subjectivity, that is to say, made-up subjectivity. Mark Amerika, whoever that is, welcomes you to Alt-X, a publishing network with interconnected modalities using the aural environment to techno-hallucinate a grid of lived content that is forever mediated. But hold your applause, please, there's more here than meets the "I".

This strange dialectic of each Digital Being (are you experienced?) becoming an "objectivized subjectivity" worth as much as the market is willing to speculate they're worth, is the best way we have of realizing our individual capacity for becoming a carrier/deliverer of Power. Power, the kind that resonates by way of a network-value living up to its potential, is delivered to all of us via a hyperrhetoric (vaporware-for-itself) whose narrative performance takes on the aura of a pseudo-autobiographical becoming (or maybe what I'm talking about is the absolute Power of a brand-name identity, as if identity itself could be a kind of hypertextually marked-up language).

Which brings up this question of the author-as-network-publisher. One question I kept asking in my hypertext theory-web, Hypertextual Consciousness {beta-version] was: is surfing the net another way of creating narrative experience? Has the navigator (the reader/co-conspirator) finally found a medium that encourages them to sample and manipulate selected data so as to tell their own story? And who really cares if it is their own? Isn't the beauty of the worldwide intranet connected to the fact that we all share this electro-consciousness and that no one owns it? Isn't this what the anarcho anti-copyrightists are always talking about?

[to be continued]

Mark Amerika is Director of the Alt-X Publishing Network. In the last year he's published three books including Sexual Blood (Black Ice Books), Degenerative Prose: Writing Beyond Category (Black Ice Books) and In Memoriam To Postmodernism: Essays On the Avant-Pop (San Diego State University Press).