Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Internet -"it gradually turns out to be alright really." ( Did it?)

Douglas Adams:
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 civilization as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.”

There are still a few of us around who are able to recall life before computers, and therefore before the internet. Heck, I can even remember life before television! Mass communication, in those days, came via newspapers and radio, and to a lesser extent via film and newsreels at the cinema.

This 1969 video, with prediction of the internet's arrival on our scenes and screens has proved to be near enough spot-on. Apart from one chuckle-worthy quote from the clip:
"What the wife selects on her console, will be paid for by the husband at his counterpart console."
It seems that back in 1969, in the USA, little wifeys were still, erm... beholden to their lords & masters.

What wasn't foreseen, at least in this video: spam, porn sites, viruses, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other varieties of social networking springing up even as I type.
From http://kottke.org/10/03/the-internet-in-1969

I remember the very first mention of computers reaching my ears - in 1966/7. I'd been working for a few months for a local Devonshire (England) 'bus company in their accounts office. One of the senior employees had been sent on a training course, on his return he regaled us with tales of the binary system leaving our brains limp and imaginations reeling. All we had to work with in those days were very basic mechanical adding machines, one step up from the abacus. Having, out of necessity, trained my non-mathematical brain to add long columns of figures in hotel ledgers, I often opted to "do it in my head" rather than tackle the awkward adder. None of us, back then, could have envisaged the amazing developments we've seen during ensuing decades - the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.

There's always a downside. Over roughly the same time span: from TV sets becoming commonplace, followed by computer development, to the present, corporate power has risen in tandem. Now multinational corporations own media, at least they do in the USA and have tentacles worldwide. TV has become a major arm of the corporations' mass brain-washing system. Oh, they'd been doing it before TV, but the opening up of mass communication made it so much easier!

It has been said that mass communication has been the most powerful invention of man, however, nuclear bombs and weaponry really hold that title. What would be more powerful, though, 20 million dead people or 20 million people doing whatever you tell them?

For ordinary souls such as I, and any who do not wish to divest ourselves completely of access to television, computer and internet, all we can do is remain aware of the potential weaponry in our living rooms. We can try to limit corporations' access to our own grey matter by choosing carefully what to read, watch and listen to. We must never forget possible sub-text and remember to keep in mind always this question: who is "paying the piper"?

Postscript: Due entirely to the internet, my own life turned in a very unexpected direction, for it was through the net that husband and I met.

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