Chapter Two

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Back in the hallway, Firespike switched off the recording. Her lips, set in a line, betrayed the rough edge of her vexation. Nevertheless, Koji failed to acknowledge her agitated return. He had made it clear early in their professional affiliation that her urge to vocalize whatever flew into her mind was not a habit he would tolerate much, and her desire for a warmer relationship with him was too strong for her to disregard his wishes, so she raged in silence. The spinning chair's plastic underpinnings squeaked underneath her heavy collapse.

Post Status to Internetwork Page: Cannot wait until I'M the contributor.

Her hand cradled the wireless mouse and jiggled away the sedate screensaver. Reacting to Firespike's angry pulse, the desktop backgrounds morphed into a soothing turquoise and gold beach. After replaying Tabi's instructions—halting the recording before the invective—she threw her energy into the assignment, practically bashing her keyboard as she created a spreadsheet and listed out the pillar blogs in the first column. She paused to consider the most appropriate order. Alphabetical or average hit count? Tabi was sure to declare whichever she chose to be amateur, so she shrugged and settled on alphabetical. At least she didn't have to navigate the internet the way it used to be, a disconnected splatter of information and entertainment that could drown you in minutes.

It had been natural enough when consolidation happened. Millions of websites, television shows, music videos, forums, movies, online stores, tutorials, webinars, songs, games, personal blogs, affiliations, newspaper articles, magazines, and videos became a neat and simple set of twelve pillar blogs. The internet became the internetwork: fluid, seamless, yours. The extreme ends of public sentiment pulsed with ecstasy and terror, but for most it was relief. Here, finally, were the guides through the tsunami of information.

The Food Network had been one of the first pillars formed and it became the unlikely pioneer for fuller integration. A goliath interactive portal of all recipes, all cooking shows, all nutrition information, all ounces-to-grams conversion calculators, all online culinary classes, all restaurant guides and reviews; it made sense when brick and mortar grocery stores were subsumed. It was easier. Plus, it meant more discounts. The Food Network base portal could now offer a recipe alongside a button to buy the ingredients from the supermarket that could most speedily deliver, as well as a breakdown of the recipe's nutritional value and reviews of the meal from other cooks. And if you decided a recipe was too much work, here was a customized list of restaurants that would deliver comparable meals to your door.

Other pillar blogs followed suit, slowly aggregating and dividing aspects of the tangible world. Celebrities aligned themselves with Rappid or PopStop or MTV-B, oozing videos and updates that linked directly to their new album or movie or web series. ToLo became the haven for the artistically minded, curating the art galleries, fashion magazines, culturally impactful television, red carpet commentary, runway shows and, of course, critiques. Sports fans were now leashed to the Cerberus of Footblog, Baseblog, and Basketblog. The churches and mosques with their dwindling flocks found like-mindedness under the umbrella of Tolle et Lege. Centuries-old divisions healed, though few noticed.

Businesses and individuals who resisted joining a pillar became invisible, unseeable. Without displaying merchandise and menus in blog directories, it was impossible to attract customers. Without a presence on the internetwork, it was impossible to be trusted, as a date or a friend or a potential employee. Fortunately, there was also a blog for those who preferred old ways of thinking and doing. With its webinars on the benefits of disconnecting, forum discussions on DIY projects, and intense infatuation with nostalgia, Philotage became a ready-made home.

Political parties became factions within Politicomma, which also became the savior of the bogged legal system and the presiding authority on correct American English language usage.

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