Hito Steyerl asks what happened to the internet after it stopped being a possibility. She's also interested in what happens when the internet "starts to move offline." But the problem immediately arises that the "Internet" can't move offline. The internet is not a thing unto or outside of itself. Worse still, the internet is not a thing at all. It is all of our computers connected using TCP/IP.

To be fair, Steyerl is perhaps more specifically interested in the behaviors conditioned by digital networks as they begin to fall into what are perceived as "non-digital" arenas. Yet, almost throughout this is a breathless paean to internet utopianism, the unsupported claims of an internet centrist who posits the "Internet" as a discrete entity with cultural logic unto itself, as opposed to a distributed series of actors on a network. Its final claims for open access border on the absurd in an effort to advance an accelerated circulationism.


"But here is the ultimate consequence of the internet moving offline. If images can be shared and circulated, why can’t everything else be too? If data moves across screens, so can its material incarnations move across shop windows and other enclosures. If copyright can be dodged and called into question, why can’t private property? If one can share a restaurant dish JPEG on Facebook, why not the real meal? Why not apply fair use to space, parks, and swimming pools? Why only claim open access to JSTOR and not MIT—or any school, hospital, or university for that matter? Why shouldn’t data clouds discharge as storming supermarkets? Why not open-source water, energy, and Dom Pérignon champagne?

If circulationism is to mean anything, it has to move into the world of offline distribution, of 3D dissemination of resources, of music, land, and inspiration. Why not slowly withdraw from an undead internet to build a few others next to it?"