Internet: Eckdaten (Code)

Aus Philo Wiki
Wechseln zu:Navigation, Suche

Exzerpt aus Alexander R. Galloway: "Protocol. How Control exists after Decentralization". Cambridge, Mass. 2004 S. 72ff

I turn now from my introduction to the creation of continuity in Net form to a more abstract consideration of formal protocol. As described in chapter 1, the physical part of the Net apparatus is its hardware. There are many different types of hardware: controllers (keyboards, joysticks), virtual­ization apparatuses (computer monitors, displays, virtual reality hardware), the interface itself (i.e., the confluence of the controller and the virtualiza­tion apparatus), the motherboard, and physical networks both intra (a com­puter's own guts) and inter (an Ethernet LAN, the Internet). However, the niceties of hardware design are less important than the immaterial software existing within it. For, as Alan Turing demonstrated at the dawn of the com­puter age, the important characteristic of a computer is that it can mimic any machine, any piece of hardware, provided that the functionality of that hard-ware can be broken down into logical processes. Thus, the key to protocol's formal relations is in the realm of the immaterial software.


The first term in Net form is the record. The record has its roots in the abil­ity of physical objects to store information. A record is any type of nonran­dom information, not simply something that records language or data. Thus, the act of sharpening a raw stone into a tool embodies the stone with the "information" of its new shape. Arranging randomly scattered leaves into a straight line gives the leaves "information." As Vilem Flusser notes, different physical objects have different propen­sities for storing information:

Air has the advantage of being readily accessible; moreover, we have organs which seem to have been made to transform airwaves into signs (to make "phonemes" out of them). . . . Hard objects (stones and bones) have the advantage of storing infor­mation recorded in them for a relatively long time. . . . Approximately three thousand five hundred years ago (in other words, only a short time ago), an important step was taken; the alphabet was invented. It is a system which recodes the phonemes of spoken languages into visual signs, allowing them to be engraved into hard objects.

Certain records can experience a conjunction of utility and information. Thus, a knife not only contains the information of cutting in its form, but is also used to cut. A photograph of a knife, on the other hand, contains the information of cutting, but cannot be used to cut.

With the alphabet comes a perfect synergy of form and information. Not only does the inscription of language have a meaning, it records that mean­ing in the very act of its own inscription. Then, as Kittler has observed, at a certain historical moment the inscription of language was bifurcated into two semiotic entities, the material object of storage and the meaning to be stored. Looking at the "moment" of 1900 (the moment of the phonograph and the typewriter), he writes that "the ability to record sense data techno­logically," using such instruments as the phonograph and the typwriter, "shifted the entire discourse network circa 1900. For the first time in history, writing ceased to be synonymous with the serial storage of data. The tech­nological recording of the real entered into competition with the symbolic registration of the Symbolic."

This shift was also observed by Ferdinand de Saussure who, in his lectures that would make up the General Course in Linguistics, labeled the material ob­ject a "signifier" and the meaning contained in it a "signified." The record is, in the most abstract sense, any nonchaotic something.

Die beiden Vorgänge:
* Symbolisierung durch Sinnzuschreibung
* Aufzeichnung mit technischen Hilfsmitteln
Das führt zur Speicherung und Reproduktion von "Sinn" in Echtzeit.


A record is one particular form-of-appearance of an object. The object is the digital economy's basic unit. It is any unit of content. It is not simply a digitization of the Marxist commodity, or a digitization of the semiotic sign. The object is not a unit of value. "A new media object," writes Lev Manovich, "may be a digital still, digitally composed film, virtual 3-D envi­ronment, computer game, self-contained hypermedia DVD, hypermedia Web site, or the Web as a whole." But I would take that even further and say that the digital object is any positive content-unit or content-description: text, image, MIDI data, VRML world, texture, movement, behavior, transformation. Digital objects are pure positivities. They are the heterogenous elements that exist in what Deleuze and Guattari have called "machinic" processes.

These objects are always derived from a preexisting copy (loaded) using various kinds of mediative machinery (disk drives, network transfers). They are displayed using various kinds of virtuation apparatuses (computer mon­itors, displays, virtual reality hardware). They are cached. And finally, ob­jects always disappear.

Objects exist only upon use. They are assembled from scratch each time and are simply a coalescing (of their own objectness). Unlike the Marxist commodity and the semiotic sign, the object is radically independent from context. Objects are inheritable, extendible, procreative. They are always already children. Objects are not archived, they are autosaved. Objects are not read, they are scanned, parsed, concatenated, and split.

Vergleiche: "Objekt und Klasse, Gegenstand und Begriff"



As shown here, a protocol is a set of rules that defines a technical standard. But from a formal perspective, protocol is a type of object. It is a very special kind of object. Protocol is a universal description language for objects.

Protocol is a language that regulates flow, directs netspace, codes relationships, and connects life forms. Protocol does not produce or causally effect objects, but rather is a structuring agent that appears as the result of a set of object dispositions. Protocol is the reason that the Internet works and performs work. In the same way that computer fonts regulate the representation of text, pro­tocol may be defined as a set of instructions for the compilation and interac­tion of objects. Protocol is always a second-order process; it governs the architecture of the architecture of objects. Protocol is how control exists af­ter distribution achieves hegemony as a formal diagram. It is etiquette for autonomous agents. It is the chivalry of the object.

The Internet is a delicate dance between control and freedom. As Gerfried Stocker and Christine Schöpf have noted:

A conception of media oriented upon transmission and dissemination (that is, cen­tralized, unidirectional distribution) has become passe in actual artistic practice. This conceptual schema — one rooted in the industrial epoch and in which the overcom­ing of geographical distance, the transfer of messages, and thus speed are inherent central parameters — is now countered by the concept of omnidirectional and partic­ipatory spheres of communication of which the Internet is the prototypical example.

In other words, at the same time that it is distributed and omnidirectional, the digital network is hegemonic by nature; that is, digital networks are structured on a negotiated dominance of certain flows over other flows. Pro­tocol is this hegemony. Protocol is the synthesis of this struggle.

Vergleiche: Über_Protokolle_(AW)


One of the defining features of intelligent networks (capitalism, Hollywood, language) is an ability to produce an apparatus to hide the apparatus. For capitalism, this logic is found in the commodity form; for Hollywood, it is continuity editing. In digital space this "hiding machine," this making-no­difference machine, is epitomized in the Internet browser.

Despite recent talk about the revolutionary potential of artist-produced browsers (Web Stalker" is the first and most famous example), I consider all browsers to be functionally similar and subdivide them into the following categories: dominant (Mosaic, Netscape, Explorer, Neoplanet, Opera, etc.), primitive (Lynx), special media (VRML browsers, Applet viewers, audio/ video players, etc.), and tactical (Web Stalker, Netomat, etc.). While the Net has existed already for decades, it is only recently that more sophisticated browsers have emerged out of earlier, primitive software. Paralleling the emerging dominance of windows-style operating systems (MacOS, Microsoft Windows) over text-based operating systems (UNIX, DOS), the browser slowly evolved from its primitive text-based form into the graphical browsers of today. Graphical browsers are highly complex protocological objects.

As I said in chapter 1, the goal of protocol is totality, to accept everything. This principle is also exhibited in the browser. Its goal is to display all me­dia formats. The browser is an interpreting apparatus, one that interprets HTML (in addition to many other protocols and media formats) to include, exclude, and organize content. It is a valve, an assembler, a machinic process.

In the browser window, data objects (images, text, etc.) are pulled to­gether from disparate sources and arranged all at once each time the user makes a request. The browser is fundamentally a kind of filter. It is a machine that uses a set of instructions (HTML) to include, exclude, and organize content. Its virtue is not diversity but university.


As the Net's universal graphic design protocol since its introduction in 1990, HTML designates the arrangement of objects in a browser. HTML is a way of marking up text files with basic layout instructions — put this sen­tence in boldface, add an image here, indent this paragraph — so that it is legible to a wide variety of computers and operating systems on the Web. Every Web page on the World Wide Web uses HTML.

The most important quality of HTML is that it is text only. It contains no tables, no font faces, no pictures. Yet it contains the instructions for tables, fonts, and pictures. For example, the following sentence has been rendered in both bold and italicized typefaces:

This is bold type and this is italicized type.

Yet, if it were converted to the HTML protokoll, it would look like this

This is <b>bold type</b> and this is <i>italized type</i>

Anmerkung 1
Im Wiki-Kontext wird
This is <b>bold type</b> and this is <i>italicized type</i>
This is '''bold type''' and this is ''italicized type''
ersetzt. Beide ergeben: "This is bold type and this is italicized type." Dahinter steckt eine doppelte Kodierung. HTML-Kode enthält die Anweisungen für eine bestimmte Formatierung, der Wiki-Kode ergibt - auf dem Umweg über HTML - denselben Effekt.
Anmerkung 2:
Der nächste Absatz aus A. Galloways Buch wird hier dreimal wiedergegeben.
* mit HTML-Formatierungen und konventioneller Zitation in einer Druckversion
* die Druckversion versuchsweise als HTML-Text umgesetzt
* die Kode-Anweisungen der HTML-Tags durch HTML-Entities ersetzt

In HTML, "<b>" stands for bold and "<i>" stands for italics. 
But note that in HTML the words "bold type" and "italicized 
type" are not actually rendered in bold or italics; they are 
simply wrapped in protocological "tags" that designate bold 
or italics. The final design layout is never actually in­cluded 
in the HTML file; it is merely described through a series of tags.

In HTML, "" stands for bold and "" stands for italics. But note that in HTML the words "bold type" and "italicized type" are not actually rendered in bold or italics; they are simply wrapped in protocological "tags" that designate bold or italics. The final design layout is never actually in­cluded in the HTML file; it is merely described through a series of tags.

In HTML, <b> stands for bold and <i> stands for italics. But note that in HTML the words "bold type" and "italicized type" are not actually rendered in bold or italics; they are simply wrapped in protocological "tags" that designate bold or italics. The final design layout is never actually in­cluded in the HTML file; it is merely described through a series of tags.

Anmerkung 3
Man sieht an diesem Beispiel gut, auf welche Schwierigkeiten mit Kode man in der Praxis treffen kann:
  1. Auf einer gedruckten Seite werden Kode-Bestandteile als Thema ausgezeichnet (zitiert). So unterscheiden sie sich von der Umgebung, in der Buchstaben verwendet werden. Diese gedruckten Symbole werden in keinem weiteren Medium verarbeitet.
  2. Wenn man übersieht, dass "Druckbuchstaben" im Computergebrauch einer zusätzlichen Verarbeitungsroutine unterliegen, gerät man in die Schwierigkeit, dass zitierte Kode-Komponenten ein "Eigenleben" entfalten. Sie bewirken ungeplante Formatierungen.
  3. Die technisch korrekte Lösung besteht darin, anstelle jener Zeichen, die im HTML-Gebrauch festgelegte (Formatierungs-)Wirkungen auslösen, ein Äquivalent von Zitation zu verwenden, nämlich den "Eigennamen" des Zeichens, das gemäß HTML-Konvention als Teil der Kodierung für "tags" verwendet wird.
Diese Konfusion bei der Kodierung kann man an früheren Fassungen dieser Seite mitverfolgen:
* Version vom 12.10.07 (hh)
* Version vom 12.10.07 (Daniel Schmid)

While HTML does require more typing, it actually simplifies graphic layout by breaking it into standard textual instructions. Why? Two reasons: (1) on the Internet, plain text is the quickest type of data object to download, and (2) a shared standard is necessary for data interchange between many different types of computers.

As the HTML specifications note, "to publish information for global dis­tribution, one needs a universally understood language, a kind of publishing mother tongue that all computers may potentially understand." HTML is therefore nothing more than a protocol for graphic design. As a protocol, it facilitates similar interfacing of dissimilar objects.


A font is not analogous to a signifier. Rather it renders the signifier itself in­ternally complex. It is a subelement of the signifier. A computer font cannot be thought of, therefore, as a genetic element of the sign. In text, for example, a font must be thought of independently from content, written markings, and so forth. Fonts are protocological. They regulate representation. Font faces appear at the intersection. They are the veneer of representation. The font is always the first thing read and the last thing written. Fonts have no body, only a formation. They buffer the act of reading. They protect the reader from the shock of virtual transfer. They are a formal protocol.


Kontext: Code: Kommunikation und Kontrolle (Vorlesung Hrachovec, 2007/08)