Monday, May 17, 2010

An Awful Lot Of 'Us'

Here are a couple cool things I found on the Internet today that I think, put together, make a nice little found narrative:

>> How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet
excerpt via Jason Kottke from a piece written by Douglas Adams in 1993:
I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.
So people complain that there's a lot of rubbish online, or that it's dominated by Americans, or that you can't necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can't 'trust' what people tell you on the web anymore than you can 'trust' what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can't easily answer back -- like newspapers, television or granite. Hence 'carved in stone.' What should concern us is not that we can't take what we read on the internet on trust -- of course you can't, it's just people talking -- but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV -- a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no 'them' out there. It's just an awful lot of 'us'
Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them.

>> Cyberbullying 2010: What the Research Tells Us, from the Pew Internet & American Life Project:
Basically, these statistics show that lots of students are spending lots of time on the Internet (slides 3, 4 &5) and a small percentage of these students are experiencing bully victimization in cyberpspace. A larger percentage of students report abuse from peers in school than on the Web (slide 15). Although the report considers cyberbullying especially dangerous because of persistence and spreadability, this supports my thesis that cyberbullying is not just a cyberproblem (slide 9).

>> Venessa Miemis
' "Life Manifesto," AKA “My Human Life Manifesto As Of Today, Which I Have The Right To Modify, Edit, Discard, Or Recreate At Any Given Time Should New And Relevant Information Come To Light Or At My Discretion Without Explanation” via Emergent By Design:

And so, in one of humanity’s greatest displays of ingenuity, we have created the Web.

It is not a destination.

It is an interface between minds that transcends space and time.

It is not a solution in and of itself, nor a savior.

It is an opportunity and a tool to find our tribes and ourselves.

It is an environment and an ecology where communities can emerge and unite.

It is a training ground in which to experiment with what might happen if we learn to open our hearts, to trust, to share, to be authentic, to engage in discovery, embrace uncertainty, and allow ourselves and each other to grow.

The Web will not save us.

It can only show us that we already have everything we need in order to heal, and it’s not located out there.

It’s in here.

It always has been.

The solution is us.

We can only save ourselves.

Carry on.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Douglas Adams excerpt.