It is often the case that the most fundamental processes in our lives are the ones we notice the least. In a way, this has to be true; if we have to take notice of a process in order for it to work, it cannot be reliable enough to act as a foundation for the rest of our lives. So we do not think about repeatedly falling forward and catching ourselves when we want to get from one place to another, or focus on convincing the chambers of our heart to contract in a specific order; until these processes are disrupted, when they suddenly and very completely capture our attention.

Thinking about a computerized algorithmic process in these terms seems a bit strange given that there are entirely industries devoted to preventing our computers and software from self-destructing, but there are some fundamental processes in our information society that have become so automatic as to pass from conscious thought. One of them is the simple concept of the hyperlink. A specially designated bit of text that appears on the screen which, when selected, takes us to more information about that bit of text.

But what happens when that algorithm is disrupted? What happens when, like a patient suffering from aphasia, a web browser no longer understands how to correctly link that special bit of text to the meaning it indexes? The Aphasia plugin for Firefox does exactly that. Depending on the severity of the affliction, a certain percentage of pages have their links and link targets randomized, indicating the change by randomly recoloring the text. Instead of completely breaking the world wide web, sending browsers to pages that do not exist or making the application itself unusable, it breaks down the lexical connections upon which we as users have become dependent. Links still work, they just do not work as expected: in disrupting the system, it is exposed for the user to better understand how it works.