Above: Paul Gavarni, Le Flaneur, 1842. Credit: Public domain.


The modus operandi ("the characteristic way in which a person sets about a task" OED) for the user of the World Wide Web is browsing--browsing from site-to-site and article-to-article (general browsing being distinguished from the act of seeking out some explicit and specific single piece of information). But this characterization can be further refined. The modus that the organization of the World Wide Web encourages, or instigates, is diversion, "the turning aside (of anything) from its due or ordinary course or direction; a turning aside of one's course; deviation, deflection" (OED). The Internet user is a modern flaneur, "a lounger or saunterer, an idle man-about-town" (OED). The Internet user drifts though the virtual megalopolis seeking only divertissement, "an entertainment ... tales, and adventures of every kind" (OED).

(30 January 2018)