Extinction Internet

Friday 25th November, 2022 - Bruce Sterling

*I happen to be in the Netherlands at the moment.


Extinction Internet is not merely an end-of-the-world phantasy of digital technology that one day will be wiped out by an electromagnetic pulse or the cutting of cables. Rather, Extinction Internet marks the end of an era of possibilities and speculations, when adaptation is no longer an option. During the internet’s Lost Decade, we’ve been rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic under the inspirational guidance of the consultancy class. What’s to be done to uphold the inevitable? We need tools that decolonize, redistribute value, conspire and organize. Join the platform exodus. It’s time for a strike on optimization. There is beauty in the breakdown.

Extinction Internet is Geert Lovink’s inaugural lecture, held on November 18, 2022 as Professor of Art and Network Cultures, within Modern and Contemporary Art History,  Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam.

Preface by Geert Lovink

My gratitude goes to prof. Mia Lerm Hayes to make it all possible, and to Frank Kresin, Dean of the Faculty Digital Media and Creative Industries, to facilitate the sponsorship of this chair by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

A few words about the background of the lecture topic. The Russian invasion in Ukraine and the mounting climate crisis urged me to not merely look back at the thirty-plus years of media theory, new media art and activism. The internet criticism that I have tried to define and practice needs to constantly be challenged and questioned in order to remain relevant. Together with my dear friend Ned Rossiter, with whom I collaborate ever since we met in Melbourne, back in 2001, I decided to go beyond my work of the past five years on the mental states of internet users, as recorded in my books Sad by Design and Stuck on the Platform, now confronting myself with Extinction Internet.

I am building here on the work of Bernard Stiegler and Franco Berardi on climate collapse and finitude in platform capitalism. I also benefitted from the dialogues with Athina Karatzogianni at Leicester University, who is doing research into the strategy debates of Extinction Rebellion, as well as Georgiana Cojocaru, a research fellow at the Institute of Network Cultures. This led to a short essay, entitled Extinction Bauhaus, on art and design education in the age of climate collapse. The following speech directly builds on these exchanges. Besides the readers of the text, mentioned in the pdf, I would like to thank INC team members Chloë Arkenbout, Laurence Scherz and Tommaso Campagna for their editorial and production to put out the text and in particular, as always, Mieke Gerritzen for the design.

Published by the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2022

Download the .pdf here: https://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ExtinctionInternetINC2022Miscellanea.pdf

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