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Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Is this what it is like?

In Coming to terms with the Web on July 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm
Family watching television, c. 1958

Image via Wikipedia

I was reading Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam the other day. I found it hard to relate to any of the characters, but this passage did resonate.  Clive, a renowned composer, is on his way to the country. He passes through the outskirts of London, and is staring dismally at the landscape:

In his corner of west London, and in his self-preoccupied daily round, it was easy for Clive to think of civilisation as the sum of all the arts, along with design, cuisine, good wine and the like. But now it appeared that this was what it really was – square miles of meagre modern houses whose principal purpose was the support of TV aerials and dishes; factories producing worthless junk to be advertised on the televisions… It looked like a raucous dinner part the morning after. No one would have wished it this way, but no one had been asked…

Clive was in a pretty dark mood, but when it comes to the internet, I feel like this most of the time. When surfing, I find zillions of these houses and factories, the purpose of which is unclear, or at least somewhat trivial, to me. I find it overwhelming, but not necessarily in a positive way. This is the marketplace of ideas, but who regulates the quality of the ideas? Of course, no-one can (and, perhaps, nor should they) and I just have to get used to this.

Clive also hints at the inward-looking nature of this sprawl: for him, at least at this moment, all human endeavour comes back to television (or, more accurately, consumerism). As overwhelming the spread of ideas (aka URLS, websites)  is, more alarming is that they might be serving an unworthy end. Let’s hope that this is not the case.

My apologies for such a pessmistic post. Just trying to come to terms with my ambivalence to the web.

Any comments?

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Hello world!

In Coming to terms with the Web on July 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

Now, my wireless keyboard is set up (it and the receiver have made amends), I’m used to the new, heavier mouse, and my browser seems to be staying open when I ask to edit a post. Ahem! Hello world! For the past 24 hours I’ve been pondering the themes I’d like to explore here. At the moment, I have:

Homogeneity

Quality, and lack thereof

Serendipity

Attention, and lack thereof

Homogeneity

Found myself buying a bottle of water this morning, something I usually try to avoid.  Like this school. Earlier, carrying my KeepCup, I felt far more cutting-edge. Not many of those about, yet. Tonight, thinking I’d like to follow the theme of homogeneity (group think, etc), I recalled an article I read in Good Weekend magazine a year or so ago, about how easy it is to identify groups of people who dress the same way. They weren’t just talking about goths, or teenagers, or even about people with bad taste. I could easily identify my category. Anyway, I went searching for this article (‘people who look the same’, ‘people who dress the same’, ‘Good Weekend archive’, etc), and after a few minutes gave up. Not very impressive for someone who has braved foreign libraries in search of obscure music scores. But that was then, this is now. My skittish mind then recalled another article, ‘Is google making us stupid?‘. It’s hard not to agree: in fact, why read the article at all? We already know, don’t we? While I was googling ‘Is google making’ google itself suggested ‘stupid’. Nice one, google. It’s all so self-referential I hardly know what to pay attention to anymore.

Attention deficit…

I try to tell myself that as I get paid to pay attention, close attention, every day, I’m entitled to some down time when I get home. Right?

Well I think so.

Until next time.