1. The Web as Metaphor
This project really started from my fascination with the Tower of Babel story; an origin story2 of how western religions believed that many languages split from one single language.
Then people were spread across the Earth by God to confuse humanity3 and prevent them from building a tower to Heaven.
But more specifically, I'm interested in its relation to how we understand and use4 the internet today.
While the Library of Babel story has predicted what the internet has become, I see it more as how there is an expansive amount of information we have access5 to on the web rather than how we actually interact6 with the internet online as readers7; through diverging hyperlinks8.
And I see the Tower of Babel story as a metaphor9 for how we use the internet specifically as a reading platform and tool. Where one site links to ten different reference sites and each splits10 into more sites and platforms.
Eventually leading us down the rabbit hole that is the internet.
2. If Browsing, then Research
Even when trying to research the Tower of Babel, I couldn't help but see how it has been interpreted, translated, questioned, and discussed through so many different mediums11, languages12, and platforms.
It’s difficult to distinguish the information from each platform13 at the end of the day, but isn’t that the point when reading14 across the web?
3. A New Vocabulary
We are seeing the exchange of words and language becoming more democratic17 and accessible18 because of the sheer amount19 of information we have access to.
To attempt to read online20 is to also attempt to watch, hear, skim21, browse, and digest everything else that’s encountered along our digital web journey.
Acts like “asking random people22 for coding help online” or “communicating through cat GIFs,” are becoming commonplace in our everyday vocabulary23.
How much awareness do we have of our daily journeys across these digital platforms24?
How much is this uninhibited fluidity25 of consuming, publishing, and sharing shaping26 the way we understand and read the world?
What default systems27 do we conform to when we read and publish28 ourselves online?
4. 10 Google Docs Later
I am writing29 and planning out this project in ten different Google Doc pages.
I am prototyping website layouts in Figma.
I have scrolled through Instagram30 numerous times, during moments of mental block31, to vicariously live through my friends’32 adventures (the FOMO is real).
I have checked my email inboxes (personal and school) in the hopes for that little hit of dopamine33 that comes from getting an important email.
I have listened34 to multiple playlists on Spotify35 with some form of the words chill, relaxing, and beats in the title.
Now I’m looking at the tens of tabs36 I have open in Safari and the three desktops I have open to swipe through. It really isn’t difficult to try to think about how digital reading37 and writing have become such a fluid process even with all of the visual clutter38 it contains because I encounter it every single day.
Every platform we visit across the internet influences how we read39, write, and understand ourselves and one another.
5. Link to Website to PDF to Scan to Book
Much of the research40 I’m trying to organize are from articles with links41 to references, more suggested articles42, and ads for clickbait articles.
Each article43 author44 has their own collection45 of links that showcase their vast online presence.
And don’t even get me started on the books I’ve used for research46.
I first had to look them up on Amazon47 to see that I couldn’t afford them, then went to look them up in my school’s digital48 library49 catalog (because my school definitely has money), then picked them up in person and physically50 read them (I know reading an actual book?51). Then I typed out what I had read back into a google doc on my computer. (Although I’ve also come across sites with free pdf52 scans and ebook53 versions of the books I’m using.)
6. Read and Reflect
I am reflecting54 on how we are real people55 using these networks56 of platforms everyday without even a thought of how or why (At least I really had never examined it critically57 before). And that’s exactly the point!
Digital is meant to feel seamless because that’s what humans made technology58 for.
We have had to fully embrace this new system59 of reading and writing60 because we depend on it. And many of us have grown up using it every day61 without knowing of alternatives.
So will making this project actually change my own internet habits62? Maybe?
7. Journey Through a Living Network
I am making this project to demonstrate what it could be like if we were hyper aware of all the information we were reading63, watching, and looking at across the network64 of platforms we commonly visit.
I am sharing this project in the hopes of encouraging users to have a greater awareness65 of how media platforms shape and filter the information we are consuming.
And to look at this current66 age of information not only as an active individual67 participant but from a critical birds-eye view of an entire narrative68 and living69 network.
8. Read me, Click me, Watch me
Did the Tower of Babel story predict how we read across the internet today?
Did it create a really great metaphor for my project?
Are you tired of hearing about it?
Whether you fully embrace this new reading experience or use it sparingly and critically is up to you. But by reading through to this last sentence, you hopefully have come up with some reflections of what Reading the Web now means to you.