I'm returning to Sussex University in April. This will be my fourth course there since I studied for my BSc in Theoretical Physics during the 90's. This time I'll be working part-time towards a Doctorate in English Literature.
The topic I'll be investigating is the way in which the Internet has undermined counter-culture. One of the major influences on my proposal was Barry Miles' fantastic counter-cultural history of London, London Calling. At the end of the book, Miles laments:
"…with the coming of the Internet, underground publication has effectively disappeared. There can be no avant-garde unless there is a time-delay before the public knows what you are doing… whereas artists in the sixties could work for years with no media coverage, the hardest thing now is to not have thousands of hits on Google or a page on Wikipedia."
There seem to be a lot of people questioning whether counter-culture is less exciting than it was before the Internet. Of course, this could be due to those people getting old and becoming out-of-touch; but despite the fantastic things the Internet provides, there do seem to be some things lost at the same time.
I'm going to investigate the question through Jacques Derrida's Postal Metaphor. Derrida was one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century. One of his achievements was questioning the concept of communication. Derrida used the metaphor of the postal system to illuminate certain paradoxes about how language worked (or didn't work). In one of his more playful books he declared that "the end of a postal epoch is doubtless also the end of literature". I want to see whether that is true or not.
So, from April I'm going to be working two days a week on the PhD and will be looking for programming/DBA work for the other three. It's going to be a lot of fun.