The digerati scoff at Doris Lessing’s Nobel speech for the sections that refer to the Internet and ‘computers.’ The Internet and computers haven’t made them dumb, therefore they haven’t made anyone dumb. While it’s certainly possible to do interesting work with the tools that computers and the network provide, Sturgeon’s law always applies. Why would it surprise anyone that a medium with so many inputs would contain a lot of crap. If the network didn’t contain a lot of crap, why would we need so many tools to filter it?
People Magazine is only published once a week, but on the Internet it’s possible to immerse oneself in celebrity gossip 24 hours per day. It’s possible to focus on one’s obsessions to the exclusion of the rest of the world. We sometimes call it the echo chamber. The network doesn’t require that we challenge ourselves, it’s happy to endlessly feed our gluttony. Do we even view it as gluttony? Do we think of it as one of the seven deadly sins? It’s a vision out of Dante, a machine that feeds itself, a hunger never sated. Is the Internet post-moral?
We laugh off an old lady’s comments about the Internet without really thinking through the deep rivers that run underneath. It’s as though we really believed that time started on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 GMT. (and that the Apocalypse is scheduled for January 19, 2038)