Peroratio (Finishing Off)
In my research for a study of popular representations of the Internet, I have done many net searches not unlike those that found Project #17. Plugging in the slang terms for body parts and sex acts, my searches netted thousands of links. Some were commercial pornography sites, some private, some demanded payment before entering, and some were free. As critics point out, I found, that explicit pornography was easy to find. Yet I also found a little wrinkle.
In my searches of the "seedier" side of the Net, I found several individuals who included long lists of slang terms coded in the meta lines of HTML or buried deep on their pages. The list of words were immensely long covering every conceivable body part and function. Yet the pages had nothing to do with sex or pornography.
Some of the trickster pages had messages that chastised or poked fun at the Web searcher: "Looking for sex, you won't find it here," "Get a life buddy," "What a sicko, don't you have better things to do," and "You can get help." Other pages were private homepages or Web resources on which the owner admitted the ruse was used to gain page hits.
When I saw these pages, I thought again of Project #17, of those surfers cruising for "breasts" and finding a hypertext that was critical of such bodily fragmentation. Most I imagine quickly turned away. Others perhaps stayed and searched a bit for any hidden images. A few, and only a minor few I imagine, stayed and read some of the lexias. Perhaps, in the end, it made them think (a muted wish at best).
In thinking of these tricksters and
disappointed Web surfers, I stumbled on the most obvious form of censorship
that may define the coming age, information overload. Although censorship
is often defined as a want of information, the banning of materials, the
shredding and eradicating of texts, censors do their best work with misinformation.
If all educators and feminists, that is, were to include the long list
of slang terms for body parts and sex acts in the coding of each of their
Web pages, it would not end cyberporn but it would make things interesting,
a bit of word play to help--in a small way--to undermine a serious problem.
That is to say, in all the acts of censorship that was the production of
Project #17 (lectures, syllabus, assignment,
classroom activities, rhetorical strategies, revision, not to mention,
banning from the server), the most important may be the republication of
the hypertext in this online forum.