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Netrip Theory

A Basic Primer

as seen in The Resonance Project #2

On the face of it, the concept of the netrip is simple enough. The adventurous will of course parse netrip in two ways simultaneously: both as the more obvious "net trip" with all of its psychedelic connotations, and the less obvious "net rip" which presupposes a fabric in the net which can, in fact, be ripped. Properly ripping the net, furthermore, allows a revisiting of the "net trip" from two angles, both summed up as "tripping on the net," i.e. taking psychoactive substances while on the net, and using the net as psychoactive substance. I am, perhaps, getting ahead of myself, but as you will soon see, the Feedback Point within a given netrip is always an issue.

Under ideal circumstances (not found in nature), the existence of a mailing list is presupposed. This mailing list, a hub of email traffic among a relatively closeknit community of peers and friends, functions as the vessel, the "setting" if you will. The call goes out in advance to this group: on Weekend Such and Such, plan to be here, online, with whatever psychoactive enhancements you care to bring. Alter your state, and begin posting at will. In previous experiments, altered states have ranged from fullblown LSD mania to 48 hour sleep deprivation - as always, friends, your mileage may vary.

The netrip is not your average entheogenic experience. We are not interested in quiet, dark rooms and inwardly focused contemplation; the netrip is not a solitary experience. Instead, imagine if you will a memetic attractor pulsing at the heart of your mailing list community. This memetic attractor is a gravitational force, comprised of the very topics and interpersonal iadics which make the mailing list a community in the first place. This memetic attractor, indeed, is likely what brought you all together in the first place; and it is a growing, evolving thing, as the community itself grows. If you dare, you can go so far as to imagine this memetic attractor as a kind of central nervous system for your community; and you can imagine yourself, and your compatriots, as neurons firing within the CNS, each email ping a signal sent and hopefully received and assimilated.

The netrip, then, is about letting this CNS experience the psychedelic state.

You begin, then, on a Friday evening. You are aware that, under ideal circumstances (never observed in our labs), twenty or thirty of your compatriots are also logging in this evening. Your goal is to attempt sheer communication; your goal is the simulation of an immediate experience. We will not presume to say, from this essay's vantage point, what the content of your communication should be, as each community will know its own subject matter much better than we do. We will not presume to dictate what length each post should be, nor how much so-called "weight" each message should contain. We only suggest that you begin immediately, and that you not censor the impulses which rise.

As you are posting, your compatriots will begin doing the same. Doubtless while you compose a single message, five or ten other messages will arrive in your inbox. As you read those five or ten, another five or ten are likely to arrive. As you begin responding to any number of these messages, still more messages will arrive. You are now having the experience of time travel, so to speak. Email, normally an asynchronous communication medium, is now demanding your immediate attention, and the Feedback Point for a given netrip is that elusive point, somewhere in the future, where the very latest mail has come through the mailing list. That single message is the Feedback Point. That single message is the leading, bleeding edge of the 'rip, and you, as you 'rip, are feeling the wake of those ripples from the future washing over you.

We suppose that these email messages will begin to form a synchronistic tapestry, but this is only supposition; further testing of the "netrip as synchronicity attractor" needs to be done.

At any given point during the weekend, additional netrippers can join in, starting from the earliest wave of the netrip and charging toward the Feedback Point. From your perspective, chasing the Feedback Point from perhaps a day ahead of the newcomers, you may now begin to see ripples from both the future, where the Feedback Point exists, and the past, where the newcomers are now riding your wake. The newcomers may bring new perspective on the past which will force adjustments in the netrip's content all the way up to the Feedback Point itself. Yes, the mailing list's CNS will be positively humming at this point, should you succeed in attaining that elusive mix of connection and communication that feeds a netrip best.

Notes on technique: Ripping the net in this fashion can, under ideal circumstances (as seen in textboooks), allow more fluid communication than email otherwise provides. Please be aware, however, that the temptation to flee into IRC or other so-called "real time" chat forums will actually diffuse the momentum of the netrip. Even if your email messages become one sentence pings a la lines of chat, they are pings that are subsumed by the list's CNS, versus pings that are lost to the undernet. Remember: "Stay on target, stay on targetů" - Red Leader.

In addition, your community will likely find its first attempts at netripping to be a confusing morass of jumbled intentions. Remember: this primer does not attempt to address the issue of content! Content remains the "X" factor which must be adjusted on a case by case basis. Eventually you may find, however, that the fluidity of such communication, coupled with the concentration required to stay at a terminal and actualize the netrip, is a profoundly unusual experience. Use the netrip as a tool for metaprogramming at the group level. Do not expect the quality/calibre of experience you would get were you sitting behind a blindfold; the quality of a netrip will not be better or worse, but will simply be something else entirely, a new ballgame to be played, a new avenue of exploration. The usual disclaimers apply: these techniques are for TRAINED PROFESSIONALS only, use with caution, and of course, there is no money back guarantee.

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