Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oh, What a Tangled Road We Surf.

When I was a pup they had this thing called the Internet. Al Gore came up with the idea before the planet got a fever. The information superhighway they used to call it.

The buzz was thick with metaphor. It was pretty easy to grasp at first. The metaphor that is. Enthusiasts (I am told that geek is a hurtful word) told of travelling at the speed of the information superhighway, or moving in the fast lane on the information superhighway or, (terror) breaking down on or being left behind by the side of the information superhighway.

In fact, it was damn-near getting out of hand with everything from rest stops to express lanes to road kill.

We got it. Internet=highway=fast=good. It appealed to the minds that grew up on jet-age technology, new and improved anything and E-Z steps to every measure of success, from financial security to converting the basement into a playroom. There was a comfortable logic that eventually took us from jet-age to space age. Space-age! Now that has got to be good.
Mind you, back in the day, we actually needed proof that Brand X couldn’t compare. But once we saw it, we got it and we believed it and our belief in it was enduring and unshakable.

So, why suddenly were we back on a highway? In fact, why were we suddenly surfing? On a superhighway?

I have never surfed, but I can’t imagine it’s a very smart way to get anywhere –not anywhere in particular anyway. Throw a web and a net into the metaphor and I’d say you got a toxic mix – a technically difficult, aquatic, recreational ride through a complexly woven trap capable of snaring flies, fish or fowl. All on a dry, mostly level paved surface teeming with tractor-trailers going 80 miles an hour?

I say, get me out! No wonder the damn superhighway is so littered with fast-food joints, souvenir stands and titty-bars.
I have got to bury this Andy Rooney attitude. Has anybody heard from Xuxa lately?

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