The aspect of Bleeding Edge I want to touch upon is the program DeepArcher. DeepArcher is, in my interpretation a standard for the users to navigate through the Deep Web. Pynchon describes the Deep Web as an abyss, without form, but still has substance. This is contrasted with the structured visuals of the surface web, with its cities and highways. So one can say that DeepArcher is a protocol that people use to access the Deep Web, a protocol that can be used to control.
At first glance DeepArcher seems to be beyond any sort of control. Unlike the hierarchical or decentralized networks that Galloway describes, DeepArcher seems to be the perfect distributed network. The program seems to be completely beyond conventional methods of control. It doesn’t save any records of where its been, it only knows its immediate destination, and later in the novel, it is shown that the algorithm used to determine the path it takes is generated by the most random pseudo random number generator in existence.
However in chapter 33, it is revealed that even DeepArcher was at risk of falling under some sort of control. Galloway’s 4th chapter on Institutionalization is a look into how protocol can fail. If a group of people can define a protocol, then it would mean that it would fall under their control.
“To be precise, many believe that bureaucratic organizations such as
ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) are
synonymous with protocol because they regulate and control the Net. But
the opposite is true.Organizations like ICANN are the enemy of protocol
because they limit the open, free development of technology.”(Galloway, 121)
Vyrva tells Maxine that Justin and Lucas were paranoid that Ice stole their DeeArcher source code and was going to patent it for himself. This is what Galloway describes as the failure of protocol, not by its own mistakes, but because we restrict its usage. Here it is clearly shown that Ice was attempting to institutionalize DeepArcher. That would allow people to restrict its usage to perhaps government organizations only, or weaken its security and anonymity to allow for easier spying.
This issue in Bleeding Edge is circumvented by Lucas and Justin, who eventually release their program as open source. While it is not a surefire solution, since anyone can access the source code. They attempt to stop the failure of their protocol by broadening the scope of their program and giving access to it to as many people as possible.
DeepArcher is the epitome of what Galloway describes as protocol. It is a management system to allow people to access areas of the Internet that is considered chaos or disorder, the Deep Web. It injects a solution to the issue of navigating the Deep Web, which has no hierarchy or form of control. However, the mere ability to navigate the Deep Web would in essence allow someone a form of control over the Deep Web. While DeepArcher was immune from tampering for a time, there are outside threats that would have made it into a tool for control.