Multiple presents: how search engines rewrite the past

Well, here is a great example of pluralist theory in practice.

Not only does our culture now focus on the idea of pluralist perspectives, but now with synchronous information and communication systems, we are entering multiple timeframes.

As the authors explain:

‘the concept of a single time axis which is moving forward like an arrow is broken in the postmodern appreciation of a variety of time horizons in different social systems and for the different actors involved(Coveney and Highfield, 1990; Prigogine and Stengers, 1988).’

What a powerful shift. Time and space are now being redefined within a pluralist and relativist perspective.

These researchers introduce an interesting notion: that the culture of simultaneity of the Homo Interneticus relies on a balance between linearity and cyclicality.

As they explain, search engines are tied to the updating cycles of the web and the
internet, rather than to the historical development of its structure.

In other words, cycles replace linearity as the main structuring element. The notion of temporal hierarchy is shifting from linear to cyclical at the meta level, but one you enter a module of data, linearity allows us to understand the data.

The idea that search engines are a collections of extended presents that exist in parallel is fascinating to me as it implies that reality and therefore the notion of truth is relative to its context and one’s position within the cyclical structure of time. It also implies that conflicting views coexist within the network, where does the ideological battle take place? In the semiotic symbols they position on the network or in the indexing of their presents?

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