The Internet? Bah? – Well Bah! to that!

Occasionally, I have a few things that I do to help recharge my creative batteries. You know what I mean – something that inspires you when things are getting monotonous.

One of those is listening to the Windows XP installer or theme music. To find that track just search your computer for title.wma (showing hidden files) which is a Windows Media file. That audio track is just soothing, probably because I’ve heard it so much installing XP on computers. Of course, I’ve converted it to mp3 format and even have it loaded on my iPod.

(if you can’t find it, just contact me)

Another thing I like to do is to watch the “The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)” video, that I’ve blogged about previously. While doing following links from the video, I ran across another of Dr. Michael Wesch‘s videos. That led me to his “Information R/evolution” which led me to google for a magazine article from 1995 shown in the video.

The Internet? Bah?
Hype Alert: Why Cyberspace isn’t, and will never be, nirvana
By Clifford Stoll
Feb. 27, 1995

Full Text Here | Highbeam Archive Here

Now Clifford is not just an amateur writer or tech person. However, he definitely had some very wrong opinions and quotes. Let’s take a look at some of them just for fun.

The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Umm – newspaper subscription rates are falling at an incredible pace. I get 75% of my news from online resources such as newspaper sites, blogs, etc. I believe that government is changing the way it works, albeit slowly, due to the internet. Now we not only have “freedom of the press”, but we have instant freedom of the press.

I do agree somewhat on replacing a competent teacher with a CD-ROM. There really isn’t a substitute, but it’s also fair to say that the internet has definitely changed the learning landscape. Many classes/teachers now require papers to be submitted online, MIT has released much of its course materials online, and many others are following suit.

How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.

I think Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s Kindle would certainly disagree with this. While there is certainly something to be said for reading a good ole book, digital text is certainly here to stay. Even Sony has an ebook reader out, although I’m no fan of Sony.

You can’t tote your laptop to the beach? Hehe. Yeah right. Mine goes everywhere I go. Typically, I have some sort of Internet connectivity as well.

Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping — just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restraunt reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet — which there isn’t — the network is missing the most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact.

I hope he didn’t miss the explosion in online sales and businesses. We now do just about everything that he said we wouldn’t – and I have some other news for him. There are some things that just don’t require human contact. Like standing in endless lines to be greeted by a salesperson who is barely knowledgeable and is just a sales-drone anyway. I’d much rather search online, read honest product reviews, purchase, and have it delivered right to my door. At the least I will research something online, read reviews, drive to a local store, and buy the thing without ever talking to a sales-drone.

In conclusion, I just thought many of his predictions were oddly right even if they were 180 degrees opposite of reality. The Internet and web continue to get more pervasive in our lives. I hope it keeps on.