How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet

Posted by Jobi George on Thursday, June 23, 2005

Douglas Adams, from the Hitchhikers fame, wrote this in 1999. Still so relevant. I had a chance to listen to him in the closing keynote at JavaOne in 1999. He is such a good speaker, makes you sit back and think of perspectives, not just on technology. I recommend reading the whole article. Here are some excerpts -

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

  1. Everything that'’s already in the world when you are 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 youÂ’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

Because the Internet is so new we still don'’t really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that is what we are used to.

Another problem with the net is that it'’s still ‘technology, and ‘technology’, as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is ‘stuff that doesn'’t work yet. We no longer think of chairs as technology, we just think of them as chairs. But there was a time when we hadn'’t worked out how many legs chairs should have, how tall they should be, and they would often “crash”’ when we tried to use them. Before long, computers will be as trivial and plentiful as chairs (and a couple of decades or so after that, as sheets of paper or grains of sand) and we will cease to be aware of the things.


Originally posted at Blogspot on 2005-06-23 11:37:00 +0000 UTC