From the loftiest perspective of all, information itself is pulling the strings: free-ranging memes whose ‘purposes’ are pure self-propagation, and whose frantic evolution outstrips all retrospective accounts. This is the mountaintop view of Chesterton’s Satan, whispering in a browser’s ear: consider yourself as interchangeable as the button you’re clicking, as automated as the systems in which you’re implicated. Seen from such a height, you signify nothing beyond your recorded actions.
Like all totalising visions, it’s at once powerful and — viewed sufficiently closely — ragged with illusions. Zoom in on individual experience, and something obscure from afar becomes obvious: in making our attentiveness a fungible asset, we’re not so much conjuring currency out of thin air as chronically undervaluing our time.