The Web of Language

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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

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  • Sliced Bread 2.0: Is the internet all it's cracked up to be?


Comments Feb 22, 2010 7:40 am

It would be too easy to suggest that--of course--the creators of the technological revolution would expect it to reform society, because they are too much involved in their creation. But there were just as many heralds of the new electronic order in other fields. The gap in vision that leads the creators of our e-worlds to this moment of disillusionment has much less to do with their admirable focus than with the error typical of most technological determinism: the belief that the technology (and this applies to any technology one cares to name) is separate from the culture in which it is born.Our e-world is neither separate from, nor yet merely contiguous with, our meatworld; rather, the realities are continuous and increasingly identical. Thus, it should come as no surprise when the e-world allows the recreation or even the worsening of the ills of our consumption-crazed culture. Thankfully, as you point out, it also creates a space for the extension of the best of us.

Reply to at 7:40 am Feb 22, 2010 10:41 pm

Several ideas: 1) 25 or 30 years ago (pre-internet) I saw an article about the then-current idea of the paperless office. It started with the idea that "In the past, it would take an accountant a week to produce a report the boss could read in 1/2 hour. With a computer, a programmer could produce in 1/2 hour more paper than the boss could read in a week." 2) I see kids, middle school through college, who can't add, can't read, can't spell, and have the attention span of a commercial. They use calculators and spell-check, but have never learned how to work out anything, because they can't concentrate long enough; they're too used to having everything happening all-at-once. 3) Multi-tasking is being shown (I don't have the references handy) to be an inefficient idea.

Reply to at 10:41 pm