Currents have always pulled me. When I was a kid, I used to run endless circles inside our three-foot-high, above-ground pool. When I finally felt the tug of the current I'd created, I'd fall back and float in soothing circles. I could do that all day. As a teen on sunny summer days, I’d take an old-school black inner tube to various parks that Lake Washington lapped against: Kenmore, Sand Point, Juanita Beach, Saint Edwards.
I’d shove off and drift. Soak in the skies, feel the chill of the lake pleasantly numbing my buns and ankles, and let the wind and water take me with them. I let the elements drive. Give it up to bigger forces, let nature’s patterns reveal themselves.
On any given day, I got pretty good at predicting where I’d end up. Sometimes though, I’d be totally surprised, carried miles across the lake. Usually a friendly boater would be willing to ferry me back the way I came. Occasionally, I had to pull out on some fancy lawn in Laurelhurst or Leschi and call a buddy to pick me up, but that was part of the draw.
If you just put in and let go, where would the currents take you?
Funny that they took me here.
You’ve probably heard of the Gulf Stream or maybe even the Labrador Current, but there are many other great ocean highways. Kuroshio, Benguela, Canary to name a few. And in this ever dramatized era of climate change, you’ve most likely heard of the effects of El Nino and La Nina on ocean and weather patterns.
But, have you ever heard of the Silicon Jet or Korean Causeway?
Probably not, because I named them. And I haven’t told a soul. Not until now. You see, I don’t do as much drifting on Lake Washington these days, but I do set myself adrift in the great Digital Deep.
I gave up surfing the web long ago, so I could study the tides, bob about in the swells and eddies of the wired world. I developed an innocuous program that I call Thor (not the Norse god, think Heyerdahl) to let me float along the strongest digital currents.
It's not an aimless cruise along the Internet. That is just one very overcrowded, increasingly polluted puddle in the Deep. I hitch rides on pure ones and zeros, sometimes drawn down into nefarious darknets, sometimes swept up to the cloud and its purgatory of server farms. Mostly, I've watched, listened and revelled in our vast cultures of information. Our new languages of connection.
And now I map it. The digital tides, currents and undertows. It’s about the patterns, the shape and form of connectivity. The maps are mysterious and beautiful. And I believe this emerging portrait of the Digital Deep is a guide to our subconscious. Who we are at our most primal level. And I know this will sound pretty trippy, but I’ve got to tell you.
I don’t think we’re completely human, anymore
So, get ready to put in, push off and let go. We’re in for a ride.