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?