The general equation between the virtual and new media which prevailed during much of the 1990s is now openly regarded as untenable. Yet another sense of the virtual remains operative in the eventfulness of new media as cultural-technological processes. This article analyses the practices of ‘the virtual’ at work in the production, circulation and representation of the internet programming language and software platform, Java. Drawing from recent theories of post-social relationality (Shields, Lister et al., Massumi), it describes slippages in Java that trigger divergent, ongoing, generative transformations. Examining the circulation, interpretations, coding practices, branding and implementation of Java, the article suggests that a notion of practical virtuality as ongoing incompleteness can help to explain the dynamism of new media as open-ended cultural-technical relationalities.