William Gibson talks about the Internet in 1997, BBC’s The Net…
“There is an aesthetic crisis in writing, which is this: how do we write emotionally of scenes involving computers? How do we make concrete, or at least reconstructable in the minds of our readers, the terrible, true passions that cross telephony lines? Right now my field must tackle describing a world where falling in love, going to war and filling out tax forms looks the same; it looks like typing.”
“China’s censors are blocking words like “today” and “June 4″ from social media as part of the country’s yearly chore to block any reference to the anniversary to the Tiananmen Square massacre 24 years ago. And though the Chinese are running a sophisticated and tight censorship ship, they’re having a bit harder time blocking memes.”
Read full article here.
This is one of the most inspiring readings I ever did. Seriously.
Paul Miller went completely offline for a year and he finally discovered that blaming the web for our vices and our poor decisions about life just isn’t the right way to go.
I’m pasting a couple of quotes, but you should read the whole thing, because it’s richer and more complex than that.
“By late 2012, I’d learned how to make a new style of wrong choices off the internet. I abandoned my positive offline habits, and discovered new offline vices. Instead of taking boredom and lack of stimulation and turning them into learning and creativity, I turned toward passive consumption and social retreat.”
“I’d read enough blog posts and magazine articles and books about how the internet makes us lonely, or stupid, or lonely and stupid, that I’d begun to believe them. I wanted to figure out what the internet was “doing to me,” so I could fight back. But the internet isn’t an individual pursuit, it’s something we do with each other. The internet is where people are.”
“It only takes a quick scroll through Tumblr to come face-to-face with the bleak realities of millennial existence and to discover that in darkened rooms, lit only by the blue glow from the screen of a MacBook Air; over the sound of Hannah Horvath’s muffled complaints coming from the TV in the next room; where empty burrito wrappers and wine bottles line up on the windowsill like trepidatious soldiers, peering out into the snow blanketed world outside; where iPhones lay inert and vibrationless on IKEA bedside tables, there is a battle raging. There are 20-somethings everywhere crying through their fingers and onto keyboards, creating the kind of futuristic tears Blade Runner only dreamed of as they tap, tap, tap, bloodletting late into the night.”
[read more here]
William Gibson interviewed:
“Anyway, I never wanted to be a collector of anything; I just wanted to pointlessly know really a lot about one thing. I did it with that, but there was sort of an end to the curve. I guess the end to the curve was realizing that what it had been about was the sheer pointless pleasure of learning this vast, useless body of knowledge. And then I was done [laughs]. I haven’t had to do that for ages. And I’ve never gotten another one of those; that may have been my one experience with that. But it was totally fun — I met some extraordinarily strange people over the course of doing that.
None of that would have been possible, but for the internet. In the old days, if you wanted to become insanely knowledgeable about something like that, you basically had to be insane — you had to travel around the world, finding other people who were sufficiently crazy to know everything there was to know about that. That would have been so hard to do, dependent on sheer luck, that it kept the numbers of those people down.
But now you can be a kid in a town in the backwoods of Brazil, and you can wake up one morning and say, “I want to know everything about stainless steel sports watches from the 1950s,” and if you really applied yourself, to the internet, at the end of the year you would have the equivalent of a master’s degree in this tiny pointless field. I’ve totally met lots of people who have the equivalent of that degree.”
“For the past 200 years, the gallery has been the home of new and cutting-edge art, a place where the art community can come together and share new ideas. But in this episode, we ask: is the web browser replacing the gallery as the best place to view amazing, cutting-edge art?!? In the era of the internet, you can view remarkable art from the comfort of your laptop. Accessible to virtually everyone, web art does away with the physical limitations of the gallery and makes impossibly cool art a part of our daily lives!”
“The internet has intensified connections between people across the planet. In this episode we take a look at the impact of this new interconnectivity on the art world. Traditional funding models are dissolving, new forms of expressing ownership have arisen to accomodate for remix culture, and artists are finding ways to connect physical art experiences and traditions to the internet. In the digital era, the experience of art from the perspective of the artist and the art audience is shifting rapidly, and bringing more people into the creative process. “
“Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity. Set in the dense, mixed-use neighborhood of Tribeca, the building’s nondescript brick exterior conceals several network interconnection facilities where huge amounts of data are exchanged. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible.”
(Via Laughing Squid)
(Via Driveby Blogging)
This article was written by Douglas Adams in 1999, and it still stands as one of the best things written on the subject. Required reading. A couple of quotes:
“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.”
A collections of news reports, commercials, and instructional videos from the 90’s, trying to explain that massive computer network that’s becoming really big now.
“Three college students take on the challenge of giving up their computers to see how their academic, social, and work lives are affected. No Facebook. No YouTube. No e-mail. How will they get their work done? Will they cheat? Who will survive the longest? This one-hour documentary follows Carleton College students Andrew, Caitlin, and Chel as they go through “digital detox” and learn to interact with themselves and with others in ways we have largely forgotten.”
“A Durban IT company pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country’s biggest web firm, Telkom. Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles – in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data.”
It was 1981…