The Scent of Time, Byung-Chul Han

Byung-Chul Han

Excerpt from The Paradox of the Present

The internet space is a space without direction. It is woven from possible connections, or links, which do not fundamentally differ from each other.

No direction or option has an absolute priority over the others. Ideally, a change of direction is possible at any time. There is no finality. Everything is kept in limbo [in der Schwebe].

The form of movement in the internet space is not a walking, striding or marching, but surfing or browsing (originally meaning ‘to graze’ or, metaphorically, ‘to dip into a book’).

These forms of movement are not linked to a direction; they also do not know of any fixed paths.

The internet space does not consist of phases of continuity and transition, but of discontinuous events or facts. Thus, no progress or development takes place in it. It is an ahistorical space.

The time of internet space is a discontinuous and point-like Now-time. You move from one link to the next, from one Now to another. The Now does not possess duration. Nothing encourages you to linger for long on a particular Now-spot.

Due to the numerous possibilities and alternatives there is no compulsion, no necessity to linger at a particular place. Prolonged lingering would only produce boredom.

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