The Web

Author : Townsend Wright

“What––Where am I? How did I get here?”

“Oh, good, you’re here.”

“Who are you? What am I doing here?”

“Don’t worry, a little amnesia, happens to everyone the first time.”

“What are you talking about?”

“What do you remember, chap?”

“I remember––I remember––going in for that study. You were there. That doctor, and those scientists, they said they were going to––”


“––Plug my brain into the internet.”

“There you go, chap.”

“But––This is Times Square in New York,”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is?”

“Look closely, chap. There are things that are wrong and you can see that. Look at the crowd. Is everything moving right? Acting right?”

“Woah. You’re right. People, they’re––flitting in and out––or only half there––or they’re not moving at all. And the buildings: the shadows are wrong, like this was a composite image taken over a whole day. And the billboards, they––there’s a normal image that moves like it should, but then, if you look closely, there’s all kinds of other pictures all imposed on each other.”

“Now you’re getting it.”

“This––is––the Internet. But––why is it a slightly wonky Times Square?”

“Think about it, chap. Right now, back in that lab, the whole of the internet is flooding into your skull. You’re not starting off on your Google homepage. It’s all coming in at once. Everything. All the Wikipedia, the social networking, the online porn, all at once. Your brain can’t handle that, chap. So your subconscious congeals it, distills it to something you can understand.”

“Why Times Square, then?”

“Best 3-D image you can come up with. Every security and street camera feed, every billboard feed, every Google Earth image, every picture taken and posted on Twitter or whatever, every cellphone camera subtly streaming video as these idiots hold the things up to their faces. This is quite simply where the most internet is. There are more images of this intersection on the internet than there are of any other place on Earth. So this is where everybody comes the first time they get jacked in. It’s just the place your brain can figure out the best. What?”

“I just––was picturing it differently. Like––”

“Green trains of 1s and 0s eerily trickling down abstract shapes like rain falling on an eternity of glass objects?”

“Something like that.”

“You can have that if you want. This is all just a matter of perception. Eventually everybody figures out how to make their own reality of it. Though I wouldn’t recommend the whole Matrix thing. Last guy who did that had some trouble adjusting coming in and out.”

“Do a lot of people do this?”

“A few. It’s a bit of a secret, so don’t go telling people when you come out. We try to avoid each other, ‘cept for introducing newbies, while in here at least.”

“So, what do I do now?”

“Whatever you want. Explore, build your world, get really immersed in online games, whatever. If you wanna get around, just think of the URL, letter by letter, and think of a way to organize the information of the site as an environment. Method of Loci shit. Make websites libraries, museums, halls of filling cabinets, that sort of thing, just so you don’t go nuts trying to understand the Web in abstract. Just don’t use Google. They sell your searches to advertising companies, and trust me, you do not want pop ups in your brain. Have fun, chap.”

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