Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet

...is a great title of a piece by Douglas Adams written in 1999 (The title is right up there with Miranda July's art project-Learning to Love You More). Do you remember who Douglas Adams is? The guy who wrote The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Here is Wikipedia's version of him.

I am cutting and pasting a quote from the above book right here because I loved it so much. I found it through Kottke.org. Where else do I find anything? Jason Kottke has some very fine things to say about this "evergreen piece of wisdom" himself, but he keeps it at a minimum (I so admire him). So read it if you want. Or just read the quote here:

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'.

I do so love that last line. Because it is so true. There is an awful lot of US here, blabbering and communing. If you want to find me, I'll be at WIBIJ tomorrow (Wednesday). It is game day (starting time 1pm Eastern). We will be doing a lot of the aforementioned blabbering and communing(and glittering--not mentioned) as WIBIJ is my version of a megaphone (we hand them out at the tent, come use yours too). And there will be another book to give away. We don't know for whom or for what and even when, we are just trusting that we will when we see it. I do hope you will join US!