It's fun, but does it matter?

Boidem birthday columns try to deal with "difficult" questions, like whether the use of hypertext can actually influence the ways we understand the world, or whether there's really any point in writing these monthly columns. It's perhaps fitting that in last year's birthday column I tried to examine the ways in which I repeat myself in these columns, and this time I find myself quoting myself from that column.

So, here's yet another mention of Tom Standage's book The Victorian Internet. The similarities between the telegraph and the internet that I often refer to here aren't brought up in order to convince readers that the internet hasn't significantly changed our lives. I'm convinced that in many ways it has. Yet it's still important to realize that along with those changes we're also witnesses to not particularly original manifestations of quite familiar phenomenon. Playing around with these comparisons is a pleasant game. But pleasant as the game may be, we'd be well advised not to assume that these comparisons prove that there's nothing new under the sun. On the other hand, it's not such a good idea to think that our times are overly original either.

Go to: Who cares?