Adrian Shaughnessy | Essays

Living Without The Internet

I've just done what tens of thousands of Brits do every summer: I've spent the past two weeks holidaying in rural France. This annual British invasion of our near neighbour is, ostensibly, a search for good weather, unspoilt countryside and sophisticated cuisine. In truth, we go because we're in thrall to the escapist and somewhat reactionary notion that life in France — and specifically rural France — is more civilised than life in our over-crowded, crime-ravaged little island. But as I sat in my isolated retreat, with the scent of lavender drifting in through the open windows, something was gnawing at me.

For the first time in three or four years, I was living without the internet, and it was unnerving to discover the degree to which I'd become net dependent.

I'd packed my laptop, but because it wasn't plugged into the giant pulsating brain of the world wide web, it felt dead — a portal to nothing. Emails didn't ping up. I wasn't able to log onto the half dozen websites I visit daily (sometimes hourly). I wasn't able to chase down facts, wasn't able to idly waste time drifting in and out of the more arcane corners of the net. I felt disconnected: my life-support system had been turned off.

When television replaced print (the medium of individualism) to become the great mass medium of the 20th century, McLuhan's vision of the global village looked as if it had become a permanent reality. Yet compared to the internet, television is a poor creator of communities. The notion of "water cooler television" already seems remote: a folk memory. Television has become the medium of consumption, and despite the presence of countless micro-channels catering to micro-interests, television only wants one sort of viewers: consumers.

The consequence of this is that the TV audience is voting with its feet. A recent report in The Guardian noted that "in the US, primetime viewing of broadcast networks sunk to the lowest level in ratings history: 20.8 million on average." Here in Britain, "the telly" is shrill with the sound of channels begging us to "phone in," "send texts," "press the red button," "tell us what you think." This faux interactivity is an increasingly desperate attempt to lure us away from the internet. It's the death rattle of an empire that sees its supremacy slipping away.

The internet is different. It allows anyone with access to a computer and a telephone line to retain a sense of personal volition. And there are enough people with computers hooked up to the web for the internet to have become an alternative — a threat even — to conventional media. How else do we explain Murdoch's purchase of MySpace? How else do we explain television's nervous aping of the interactivity of the internet?

Of course, just like television, the internet has also been colonized by commercialism. Yet often with surprisingly beneficial results, as the new book The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand by Chris Anderson shows. And anyway, we can easily bypass the commercial hucksterism of the net and glide effortlessly toward the two great shining jewels in the internet crown: unlimited information and a sense of "personal" community: put another way, toward communities of our own making.

When I'm deprived of the internet, I'm hampered in my professional life as a designer and occasional writer, and in my personal life as an info junkie. The internet has not lessened my fondness for books — hunting down information in print media in fact remains one of life's great joys. But it's quicker on the internet, and you've got more options. Sure, you have to be wary of dud information, and data is more likely to be inaccurate on the internet than it is in book form. But you learn to check and cross-reference. You learn to be wary. It's all part of the fun.

The idea of the internet as a source of community, however, is less easy to evaluate. Deprived of my internet connection in France, I felt doubly disconnected. I could see that I was surrounded by a community — one that was surprisingly attractive, homogeneous and resilient. But I wasn't part of it. I was courteously admitted to it when I ate in one of the local restaurants, or when I chatted with the stallholders at the local market, but that was about it. A more gregarious person than me might have joined in the lively bar culture that thrives in even the smallest villages. But with my poor French language skills I was content to remain an outsider — an admiring observer.

Back home in London I don't feel any great sense of community, either. I barely know my neighbours (a feature common to metropolitan dwellers), and I only experience the tug of community in my work, where I feel a tribal bond with other designers.

The "community" that I find on the internet — and which I missed so keenly in France —- is the communality of shared enthusiasms for marginalised subjects. It might be a "community" of only a few dozen people clustered around subject matter incapable of maintaining a foothold in the world of bricks and mortar. I'm talking about sites, blogs and forums created by enthusiastic individuals and groups with little or no regard for the commercial potential of their activities. I'm talking about minority subjects that, without the internet, simply will not survive. These are the sorts of subjects and connections that, if I'm deprived of them for even a couple of weeks, make me feel twitchy and disconnected. Unplugging is no longer an option.

Posted in: Social Good, Technology

Comments [45]

Did I just time travel back to the year 2000? Because this piece has the sensibility of about 6 years ago when people were pondering these questions. I mean if a corporate mogul has purchased the epitome of your subject, its probably not news anymore.

I just came back from 10 days in Hawaii with no Internet (and hey, no laptop). It was a difficult choice (the no Internet thing, not the Hawaii part) but I realized in order for me to fully have a vacation I really needed to let go and walk away. To change my mode from the persistent reading of blogs and comments and dashing off clever messages or inquiries about work or whatever. To step off, for real.

And guess what? The Internet didn't notice I was gone! The Tragically Hip and Rolling Stones mailing lists continued discussing arcana and making private jokes, as if I was really here. Disconnecting is an option, absolutely. It's a necessity, I'd say, for our souls. The Internet is an organic entity and it routes around missing nodes (like any of us) quite nicely.

More pragmatically challenging is that travel sans Internet is tough - even if we don't look up answers to silly questions or find out who that actor is that we saw on our hotel TV, we still look for weather forecasts, restaurant recommendations, maps, airport info, and the like. That stuff is essential, and I hate having to give up THAT in order to give up my daily plugged life.
Steve Portigal

I don't know. This is fairly obvious to anyone who is part of a specilised internet community, but I'm always surprised that when the media are talking about the internet, they don't make more of its ability to bring together people who share an interest but are geographically separate, whether that interest is poetry, wire-haired terriers or typography.

After six years in England, especially the last six month I spent in London I was truly connected. Whatever information I needed was provided by my DSL connection, "how do I go where I need to go?" "what the hell is phenomenology" etc... all my questions could be answered by a quick google.

Then I moved back home to Greece. A Dsl line was prohibitively expensive and a dialup connection simply wouldn't do.


no internet...

no quick info

So then I started to think

"... this piece has the sensibility of about 6 years ago when people were pondering these questions"

I'm not so sure about this. I mean, of course, people were pondering these questions a number of years ago in order to figure out, even then, a relatively new phenomenon. But the context in which we ask these question currently relates to the matter of accepted daily life, not novelty.

Soon after the internet exploded onto our screens one of the most commonly used 'options' was Skip Intro. Businesses and designers were justifiably in a daze over the internet, but the bells and whistles wore off. As did the novelty.

The internet has become something people use rather than look at or play with (though, thankfully, there is still much to look at and play with on the Net, as well).

Another point, I don't think I've met any of the people replying to Mr. Shaughnessy's post, yet we're all plugged in chatting. Geography is not an issue. You can be anywhere talking to anyone from any time zone. This is not new anymore, but I still find it incredible.

But for all it's community orientated overtones, the internet is a cold binary virtual world. Even though we're all plugged in chatting, have I met any of the people replying to Mr. Shaughnessy's post? Nope. Though the internet does bridge distance, it can never replace actually meeting someone. All this connectivity is still through an interface. We still don't talk to our neighbours. Is this a good thing?

We need human contact, and less net interaction. A colleague of mine stated that his biggest fear was having the internet go down. How terrible. How 21st Century of us to rely on technology, but hamanity seems crippled, staid, and even regressing somewhat.

I identify with Adrian's contemplation, but am also saddened by it. It's 10:25 at night, I'm going to hug my wife. I'll be disconncted, but more connected than where I am while typing this.

The internet can only show you so much, for example photos of where Adrian went, travel guides, hotel reviews etc. I'd chuck all that away just to be there. Real experiences for me are far more valuable, yet for some a 'virtual' experience is just as rewarding - see secondlife!


Tselentis: We need human contact, and less net interaction...

We also need to be careful to properly frame our generalizations.

PK and I originally interacted via his web site. We first met in person during a stay at the house of two people we knew mutually; we'd both met them via the net. Over the course of the three or so months prior to my move to Chicago, we exchanged approximately 2000 e-mails. While the bit about going off to hug your spouse makes for good pathos, it ignores the question of how some others may have come about their own in the first place.
When I arrived here, rather than being dumped into a Big New Scary City, I had a small circle of people I was already familiar with. One of them hired me for my first job. He's now working at Yahoo due to his own on-line interactions, and may be relocated to London soon. Other on-line acquaintances I've made have gotten me projects for design agencies who would otherwise not even be aware of my existence.

I can continue this chain of initially net-based connections as long as you like, without a trace of sadness. I can also provide a list of connections that began in person and moved to the net for reasons such as simple geography. These things are intertwined; you can't just cut out or even necessarily reduce them. I'm rather appalled at the colossal waste of time most "human contact" and attendant chitchat turn out to be. It goes both ways.

Using "technology" as some kind of scapegoat for alienation or whatever(e.g., The Lack of Design Ability in Students Today) is just lazy and more importantly inaccurate. Technology is a concept, not a thing, and it applies just as much to cel phones as to smoke signals as to banging two rocks together to make the fire. Not only will we always be reliant on technology, we always have been. The question is not one of quantity, but proper use. Anything else is denial.

I read in the free paper on my way in yesterday that a major study (I think by the University of Toronto) has just been completed that stated people who spend more time online, being "connected" are actually spending less time with their friends and family. While internet users reported feeling more social becuase of online interaction, the reality is that they are drifting away from their loved ones.

While in isolation this seems obvious, reading it away from the computer made me think about my (and perhaps my wife's) internet addictions.

"I'd packed my laptop, but because it wasn't plugged into the giant pulsating brain of the world wide web, it felt dead — a portal to nothing."

That's exactly what I feel when I have my laptop and no access to the internet. I have moved 2 times last year and I had to wait some weeks for internet, thanks to the isp. So I know the feeling.

Speaking of McLuhan, I'm sure if he refers to the global village as we see it nowadays. Some "cyberpessimists" authors still believe TV is the *the* medium for the creation of a global village, because it's the only way you can have several people sharing the same experience - say, the soap opera they all saw last night.

Micro-channels - *and* the internet - do not follow this pattern, because, as you said, it allows for micro-communities, and not necessarly a global village - in the sense that people watch, read, search what they're interested in and not what the TV as to offer.

Hope I'm making some sense.

Wasn't there mobile coverage? GPRS is at least enough to download mails and using some im client...

> A colleague of mine stated that his biggest fear was having the internet go down. How terrible.

Jason, no need to refer to me as "a colleague". I have publicly said many times - sometimes jokingly, sometimes not - that the internet going down is one of my biggest fears - right up there with large groups of toads, or being chased by a dinosaur (or a mugger) and having no shoes on, or slugs and snails. Just like Su, the internet and the connectivity it brings has actually made my professional and social life possible and, yes, I have become dependant on it to maintain that. To lose this "medium" would be terrible. Just like it would be terrible to lose my wallet, or have my house go up in flames, or have a bug fly into my eye and render me blind for the rest of my life. As technology progresses and we assimilate it into our daily lives it becomes a part of how we operate. It allows us to operate in tune with the rest of the world.

The notion that the internet negates "human contact" is down right short-sighted. I haven't had this much human contact since I bunked with teenage boys in summer camp.

> I'm going to hug my wife. I'll be disconncted, but more connected than where I am while typing this.

That sounds romantic. But you are confusing two separate things: Sure you are "connected" to the one you love and it fulfills you in a VERY different way than being connected to the internet. One does not negate the other. Unless you make it so.

> The internet can only show you so much, for example photos of where Adrian went, travel guides, hotel reviews etc. I'd chuck all that away just to be there.

Dan, yes, that's the best scenario: where you can go anywhere you want, read any book you want, hang with anyone you want despite where they may be, listen to any music you want. But the truth of the matter is that the physical, economical and political realities of life interfere in all the things you would want to do. The internet can help bridge those gaps.

The internet is not a replacement for human feelings and interaction. It is a perfect conduit for each person to extend those traits however they can and to the extent that they can.

I share Adrian's feelings. I can't help but feel disconnected when I am away from the internet. The internent provides me information - information that may not be crucial, but one that interests me and complements my day-to-day activities - that would otherwise be hard to get. So, I may travel with Bryony and have a wonderful time, or I may visit my family in Mexico and have a wonderful time and reconnect and all that mushy stuff, but there is an intellectual (maybe even emotional) part of me that needs that tether to the world that the internet makes possible.

So, yes, it would be horrible for the internet to "go down".

This is pathetic. Five years ago, travelling in Europe didn't require a constant connection to the internet (there are guide books, and internet cafes if you needed to email a friend). Talking to locals and exploring are more rewarding than information provided by the net, anyways. Ten years ago it wasn't possible at all, anywhere, but the information was still there if you knew where to look.

Nobody should really need the internet this badly. It's made grabbing information so easy that we have become extremely lazy. Now, when we are forced to exert even the slightest effort to gather information about the world (such as opening a book or walking out the door) we whine about how inefficient it is, but it's just how it's been done since the beginning of time.

A week in the Dominican Republic without constant connectivity was as much vacation as going to a Carribean Island. It is often as important to break from routine as it is to get out of town.
Lucas Krech

There sort of a difference between lack of connectivity to the internet and the internet as a whole ceasing to function. I might get a little antsy with no connection for a bit, like Adrian, but I'd get over it. However, if the internet completely lost it's sh*t, I don't think Armin would be the only one freaked out.
Brian Alter

human contact

We can get human contact through the web? But we cannot get physical interaction, and I should have clearly stated that above. The notion that the internet creates more social interaction is fascinating. I too communicate with many people via the net, and would never have 'met' them without it.

But where do we place our values? On synthetic interaction with people where a screen acts as the medium of communication? Looking into pixels versus somebody's eyes... which one is near-sighted?

To Armin: The internet is not a replacement for human feelings and interaction. It is a perfect conduit for each person to extend those traits however they can and to the extent that they can. In the context of extending human feelings/interactions, each person stretches things. People have different communication styles, and for some, the Internet is the best (and only).

TO Su: The Lack of Design Ability in Students Today, my goodness, where did this come from? Are we on the subject of education here? Or can you enlighten us?

KF, thank the stars you addressed this problem as well. And to your closing question, I answer, No.

But for all it's community orientated overtones, the internet is a cold binary virtual world. Even though we're all plugged in chatting, have I met any of the people replying to Mr. Shaughnessy's post? Nope. Though the internet does bridge distance, it can never replace actually meeting someone. All this connectivity is still through an interface. We still don't talk to our neighbours. Is this a good thing?

Armin - Yes I might be hiding from the truth "realities of life" as you put it, but I still feel that my limited success has been from offline commmunication and the experience/s gained from 'being there' have been far more vaulable. I may have not yet used the Internet to the same level as yourself and others, hense it might be clouding my judgement, so i'll bow out for the time being! I just dont feel comfortable with the net replacing real-life interaction and how we establish offline communnities.

I live on an island, and while I see and enjoy the company of some of my real-world neighbours, the vast majority of my social life is online ... I'd say about 95%, in fact. I used to worry about this; I used to feel geeky, pathetic and almost sub-human. But today I sit in New York, with my very good friend Debbie, who I met through the community of Speak Up. Last night I spent a remarkable evening with many aquaintances and friends, all of whom I met online. Tomorrow night I will celebrate a birthday with "a colleague" and good friend (among others), whose greatest fear (or one of) is the internet going down. This past week I met several people with whom I had previously only exchanged email. And in May, I was in London and met Adrian Shaughnessy for the first time as well. I can honestly say that I could travel to Argentina, Brazil, Qatar, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Britain, and many cities in the US, and meet up with someone I know.

I've been cultivating intensive online friendships for about 10 years, and I've always said that getting to know someone this way is a bit like knowing them inside out. You learn what's in their heads, before you learn how they project themselves physically. It's weird, and sometimes surprising, but no less (or more) "real" than connecting in other ways.

But as noted, the internet does give us access to people we are more inclined to like, because we have things in common. And when you engage with people in this way, losing internet connection triggers a loneliness. Loneliness makes us restless and unhappy.

Yes, you can go to the cafe and try to engage someone. But the chances are high that despite the physical presence, the interaction will be superficial or dissatisfying. Idle chit-chat to pass the time.

I no longer feel that this is a less legitimate, intimate or desirable way to maintain my social life. I'm just grateful not to have to spend more time talking about, oh, say, the merits of different kinds of firewood.
marian bantjes

Fascinating to see the way this discussion has developed. Please don't tell me that the internet doesn't stimulate genuine human interaction.

The comments above are split between those who find communication via the internet to be synthetic and a poor substitute for face-to-face human interaction, and those who relish it as an additional channel for communication between human beings. No surprise to learn that I'm with the latter group.

Instant messaging systems are now an integral part of the daily social life of millions of people. Will this result in a generation of bloodless social misfits who've lost the art of conversation and are incapable of human interaction? I doubt it. My teenage daughter is a heavy instant messaging user. But she also meets her friends - the same ones she chats with online - and does all the things teenage girls traditionally do, and she has a social poise that I lacked at her age, and a grasp of the modern world and all its technological intricacies that is entirely natural and comfortable.

The internet as a mode of communication is no more than a contemporary equivalent of the exchanging of letters. No one describes letter writing as 'synthetic' or lacking genuine human interaction. Marian, Su and Armin give compelling descriptions of how they each use the internet in precisely the way written correspondence was once used.

One last point: internet communication has reignited a need for good language skills. If you want to make yourself understood via the internet you are obliged to use effective language. This needn't be formal usage, but it has to be effective, and the ability to use effective language is one of the best tools of communication available to human beings.
Adrian Shaughnessy

Adrian, your One last point above resonates with me, especially since I'm guilty of not providing enough clarification through net communications. It's a skill that is valued, and I for one am always looking to improve upon it. In truth, I get some good lessons from the comments I read here and on other blogs too.

Perhaps because I'm younger and grew up on the internet my prespective is different, but, the internet is our social landscape. I moved to Toronto for school 2 years ago, and knew nobody. Through the wonders of LiveJournal I "met" many new friends. Ironically, these people are the ones when I met in person, became best friends with, and eventually moved in with. All the people I met "in person" at "social functions" were all friends of circumstance than any true bond. We aren't in touch any more.

We first introduced ourselves to eachother as "mangophreek," "run comrade" and "gone wilde." We knew eachother's past lives, which was quite humourous. It's sort of an instant-family.

Between first and second years, my internet friends (I'd met them at this point) and I all moved to our respective home towns, and one of us went to Europe. We used LiveJournal to keep up with the events of eachothers lives while we were apart for 5 months, its like we were with eachother the whole time. We actually orchestrated renting a house between Windsor, London, Kitchener (Ontario) and Scotland from a landlord who lived in New York. He gave us the place over another group after he stumbled upon my blog and decided he liked my character.

And finally, I've moved out on my own and purposely didn't have the internet for the first month, so I would go explore my community. I just ended up reading a lot of books instead. I was overpowered with feelings of loneliness, very disconnected from the world. It's a strange feeling, but just seeing someone else is online - on MSN or Skype, a LiveJournal post or flickr update, its like they're sitting in the room with you. Perhaps its a bad metaphor. Sometimes we can't meet in person, and the internet bridges that gap.

My only fear is that sometimes we meet people online and we have far too high expectations of who they are in reality. Sometimes the internet allows us to change character so easily, its easier to be more outgoing as you don't have to look someone in the eye when you discuss your deep, dark secrets. There's a disconnect there.

If you want to make yourself understood via the internet you are obliged to use effective language.

It goes beyond this. The proliferation of creative writing, hyperbolic addition to the stories of daily life are growing so we can amuse our friends as we regale them with tales. And the bigger words we use, the better. It's always fun to be outsmart your friends with your lexical talents. There will soon be a nation of creative writers coming about, but it will take a couple years for us all to mature.
marko savic

Everyone above has valid points because everyone reflects on the Internet and it's connection and usage in their lives. We can all sit here and type up about the wonderful people we've met across the globe and how Information Technology has become so advanced that allows us to do what was unimaginable a few decades ago and how lives have become dependent on it.

Yes, we are in the 21st century; life is different but is the world a better place? There is much more potential for it now more than ever for it to become a better place because of the internet.

It sort of reminds me of the branch of design from art: when the Bauhaus came and Gropius wanted to unify the world and make it better. It was a new direction for the world. Internet is a medium for connectivity and interaction breaking the barriers of time and speed: an asset to living in this industrialized and globalized world.

In my reflection of this ongoing and growing universe of possibilities I think Adrian makes a point about our disattachment from nature.

We all adapt to our environements. If you live in North America or Europe or any other First World nation, your life and values are much different than someone living in Tibet or Marshall Islands or a developing nation. What can we do about it? Explore culture and don't get an overdose of Internet. Because overdose of anything is bad for you and will affect your system. As long as you don't let your life revolve around Internet and still value the essential skills and values of life, you'll be fine.

We are capable of adapting to anything. However, the psychological acceptance has to come first. It's kind of like quitting smoking no?

on being detached from nature.
Playing Xbox with your friends over a high-speed connection offers you entertainment and interaction. Using a headset, you can communicate with verbally, taunting away as you score points or kill baddies. However, it cannot compare to the physical exertion that takes place while actually performing those very activities outdoors. Jockeying your fingers to peddle your legs 100 m is not the same as the real thing.

Our global village has become part of our humanity, and part of how we operate as people and interact with others. I don't fault netizens, who depend on dialing into cyberspace and feel empty or powerless when they're not, but I will continue to question how the digital interface they've grown accustomed to (monitors, headsets, laptops, et al.) impacts their being.

"The internet as a mode of communication is no more than a contemporary equivalent of the exchanging of letters."

I would say that is a lot more than this oversimplified statement. I agree that there is resemblance between email and letterwriting, but the internet goes a lot further beyond email.

The internet is a meta-medium that encompasses all mediums before it, and one through which many modes of communication and interaction can exist. Print communication, television, and radio can all be simulated through the internet. And you can exchange files from which anything from a music cd to a book to a house can be constructed. In addition, the option of user input is always available. And as some of the posts above describe, the internet even simulates the traditional oral communication of the village, something radio and television hoped to do but never achieved.

Instant messaging goes much further beyond letterwriting. IM is somewhere between speaking and writing, with the added option of file exchange. This demonstrates the notion that the internet is both a medium of communication as well as channel for the distribution of goods.

So I think it goes a lot further than equating letterwriting with the internet. The instantaneity of exchange via the internet, whether it is a two character emoticon or 500MB quicktime, pushes the medium beyond anything that came before it. The pen may have been a tool of persuasion, but one can quite literally run an empire from a computer with an internet connection.

I still can't help but think how different this conversation would be if everyone was sitting down in person (the same place), discussing being connected to the Internet or not.

I don't think it would be better or worse - just different and i'm sure designers can agree 'difference' is something that is important... so as long as we dont forget the merits of offline communication and communities - things should be PERFECT!

Heres another thought - if I assume we've all met mostly like-minded people online and use the Internet with or as part of communities based on these interests, though massive the Internet can be quite insular. Experiences in offline communication can be quite the opposite - yes it can be forced and awkward, but also entertaining and enlightening - the chances of meeting some one different I feel is far more likely offline. For example, I'm not likely to go to say the bee keepers associations website, yet I meet an apiarist and had an interesting conversation last weekend, where I learnt about 'bee' related business and he learnt how he would benefit having a 'bee' related logo. I know I could have gone to a chat room and possibly met him there - I just feel the chances are slimmer..!? Not that this experience bloomed a great friendship, it might be important to consider the more spontaneous nature or merit of offline communication.

Humans can go three days without water. About 25-30 days without food.

Although, it has been found that after 48-72 hours without tactile input ( sensory deprivation ) we all go completely "bat shit."

Joe Moran

A communication tool for me to take and send info.
Too much time in it could numb your brain cells.
In any case, too much time in anything, including thinking, would numb your brain cells.

look from studio LDA

"Everything in moderation."

"Everything in moderation... even moderation"

What is the impact of staring at screens all the time? Nobody knows. Strange habits stack up without anyone really noticing - suddenly everybody is staring into their telephone screens on the train or they have headsets installed in their ear because they're just too busy to hold a phone. Who is that important? What is it that simply cannot wait?

Design? Has digital communication improved the design process? Is better design being produced at a greater rate? Are more ambitious projects being undertaken? Having never used them, it is easy for me to feel nostalgia for heavy black telephones and loud typewriters, to imagine that today's technology still won't provide any edge over the Rands, Lustigs, and Eamses of the past, who had the luxury of time to think.

I'd love to hear the perspective of someone who ran a design house in the sixties or seventies - was it more productive to communicate with the client in person, over the phone, or by post where personal interaction or time for reflection were required? (as opposed to the fifty-odd emails from a client that might flood my inbox in a single day as a project nears completion).

James A. Reeves


Meant to say --

Although, it has been found that after 48-72 hours without sensory input ( i.e., think sensory deprivation ) we all go completely "bat shit."
Joe Moran

BBC Article - 15 Years ago today, mankind (Sir Tim) created the Internet.

As a fellow info junkie, I feel your pain. I couldn't imagine going an hour without Wikipedia to brief me on historical references, Google to correct my spelling, Digg to entertain my declining attention span. But with IPTV on the rise and entire cities being blanketed by WiFi, its hard to imagine a life without these standards. But it will be a while until America becomes entirely dependant on the virtual information network. Its sickening how far Asia is in terms of broadband and wireless connectivity.
And the designer's job is to comment on this shift in dependancy, reminding people to always keep a backup plan handy (a physical dictionary or perhaps a real friend). Wow... real human interaction. I remember those days. Now im depressed. Thanks alot for these Apocalyptic visions of the wireless future. Now I'm going to cry and post it up on YouTube.

> So I think it goes a lot further than equating letterwriting with the internet.

I don't think anyone was saying that letterwriting and the Internet are equal. I think the point trying to be made was that it's simply a new, contemporary form of communicating. Makes me wonder if people were making the same sorts of arguments and observations, getting their panties all in a bundle, when human interaction via the telephone became ubiquitous? New technologies always seem to inspire similar, fretful ponderings. But in the end, I think that humans are pretty good at adapting.

Koo, there was a great article in the New Yorker recently on Wikipedia.

Oh, and I am unashamedly addicted to the Internet, as I was reminded recently when I was sans laptop for a week while repairs were being made. I look at it as supplemental socialization. I'm considering working internationally and the Internet immensely simplifies the task of making initial connections half way around the world.

Callie, when someone says "The internet as a mode of communication is no more than a contemporary equivalent of the exchanging of letters", they are saying that "The internet as a mode of communication is no more than a contemporary equivalent of the exchanging of letters." I addressed this statement because 1.) i think the internet is a channel or medium of communication that produces modes of communicating and interacting, and 2.) the author of this statement used the term 'no more', whereas i think that while communicating via the internet does share characteristics with letterwriting, it goes much more beyond that.

I don't doubt that humans are good at adapting, but I think each new technology introduced to the world should be looked at for what it is. The differences should not be lumped into generalities. New technologies have precedences, but there is also a reason they are called new.


When it can take you there, understandably you'd want to escape it every once in a while.
But really, I hope you all click on the link, watch it closely in it's entirety and send it to all the people you know who'll spend a considerable amount of time online.

Has Shahla seen Cox and Forkum?

I suggest you all click on the link -- study it closely in it's entirety -- and send it to all the people you know/love who *don't* want to see what's happening in Lebanon happen in the U.S.

Joe Moran

Go on Joe, spread the fear and use the word 'love,' while missing the point entirely.

My apologies to Mr. Shaughnessy and DO readers up front, but I can't let "Shahla's" comments go by. ( A true testament to the Internet bringing people together, no? )

Please check out this propaganda.

It addresses the history of Palestine's "peaceful" agenda and the buildup to the current situation in Lebanon.

Fear apparently *is* the point.

Joe Moran

so accurately have you managed to describe my own feeling and being.

it is reinforcing to know there are more people in this #tribe# such as you, out there :)

Dude, Adrian, you were in France and didn't go to the local villa's restaurant each evening? They've got such amazing cheese, and wine too! Oh but the French cheeses (sigh).

And you didn't do a hike through the wonderful lavender coloured hills to see an amazing sunset from a different perspective than the one at home?

And you didn't help pick apples from a tree and laugh at the silly young Polish kids that giggled and attempted to put apples down each others pants as a form of entertainment who's mother then made you come over later for hot fresh baked apple pie even tho you couldnt understand a word they said?

And you didn't go shopping for the most amazing leather belt ever, from a small shop on a cobblestone street whos owner, a grinning crooked-teethed old man who smelled like slightly of leather polish, waved you into the back where he fitted you perfectly with the length and buckle of your new belt?

And at the local farmers market you didnt find the coolest flowers in a bouqet that happened to match a summer dress for sale one stall over, so you had to buy both, and you still have the dress and a bookmark made with the dried petals from that bouquet and they forever forever remind you of that one summer trip to France?

You never got to secretly stop on the road, go over to the roadside fence, look around to make sure noone was anywhere in earshot or view, and then turn and do your loudest "Moooooooo!" to the semi-amused looking cow standing on the other side of the fence in front of you?

Ah, my friend, my friend....why go on vacation to France if that is not what you wanted; you wanted to be online instead? I'm actually asking a curious not-mean literal question.

Now, to be sure I am in NO WAY knocking those who choose to spend their vacations online; I have done it many a time. And I am a super-geek. As a teen in '90 I was slutty enough to go home with a boy because he said he had a BBS in his closet; until then I'd only dialed into them, never actually seen a server.

But if you have the financial wherewithall and choose to go to a beautiful country with a completely different culture, why not take in some sights while you are there? Thats all I'm saying.

Here's hoping you find more happiness in your future respites.

The internet is changing our lives. As a web designer I'm especially effected it seems I'm online for at least 80% of my waking hours. Is this technology a good thing. I love it and hope no one ever takes it away. addiction? Maybe
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The InterWeb will never usurp television. I guarantee it. The ball game is advertising and the web is taking a huge slice of traditional revenues. Half of the resources on the Web is junk.
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