Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon’s essay-film “World Brain” mixes documentary film and fiction, found footage and reenacted scenes, YouTube videos and pseudoscientific reports in order to illustrate the global interconnectedness of data.
The film is part of a transmedia project that also includes an interactive website with texts, images and other films. The project, which was published in ARTE Creative, is a stroll through a group of stories on such diverse topics as data centers, animal magnetism, the Internet of myths, the inner life of rats, how to gain a network of researchers in the forest, how to survive in the wilderness thanks to Wikipedia, and how to connect cats with stones.
Inspired by Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, the film attempts to convey to viewers the complex structure of global data traffic and takes them on a trip though the physical spaces of the Internet. From the perspective of a unit of information, they are led through the international data network to underwater cables, data centers or satellites. In addition, they are shown how a group of researchers attempts to establish an alternative project to save humanity by using Wikipedia to survive in the forest. “World Brain” is concerned with the ideologies and utopias that accompany the emergence of the idea of a global brain, a collective intelligence that encompasses all of humanity. The film explores the question of whether the Internet has assumed the role of global nervous system and hence is in the process of developing an autonomous intelligence, which is slowly escaping human control.
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