Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere
Much of the [Obama stimulus] package is sure to be devoted to what we traditionally think of as infrastructure: roads and bridges and school repairs. And that's definitely needed. But if we really want to jump-start the 21st-century economy, we need to look beyond the interstates and start investing in the information superhighway.
Nearly half of US households don't have a high-speed internet connection. And without a massive public investment, we'll keep falling behind the rest of the world and failing to close the digital divide.
Building better broadband is no bail-out. It's a downpayment on our digital future. According to a 2007 study by the Brookings Institution, boosting US broadband adoption by 20% – putting America on par with a country like Denmark – would create three million new jobs.-- CRAIG AARON[I]t's important to realize that achieving a knowledgeable Internet citizenry is not simply a technological problem and thus cannot be resolved by a solely technical solution. There is plenty of research now that shows how mere access to the Internet does not level the playing field when it comes to achieving universal Internet literacy. Rather, coupling technical access with education about uses is an important part of the puzzle. Of course, even if one accepts all this, solutions are far from obvious.
Just how many Americans might be affected is unknown, but Dr. Dave Greenfield, he author of Virtual Addiction and founder of the Center for Internet Behavior, a recovery facility for Internet addicts, estimates that as many as 20 million of the country's online users can be considered "addicted to the Internet." He says the addiction takes the form of excessive gaming, over-use of the computer to watch pornography, or compulsive Internet gambling.
Usually, it afflicts people who have had major stress in their lives and feel the need to fill the void left by a marriage gone sour, a difficult job or demanding life-style. They take to the net, where they can drown themselves the pleasure of a wonderland where everything happens just right. "The Internet itself is a giant slot machine when you search for something you don't know when you gonna find it, how good it's going to be," he says. "It’s the same reason somebody will stand in front of the slot machine for 10 hours even if they know they might not win. It’s not a rational way of behaving, but they still do it because the brain loves unpredictable rewards."Pretend for a second that you're a CEO. Would you reveal your deepest, darkest secrets online? Would you confess that you're an indecisive weakling, that your colleagues are inept, that you're not really sure if you can meet payroll? Sounds crazy, right? After all, Coke doesn't tell Pepsi what's in the formula. Nobody sane strips down naked in front of their peers. But that's exactly what Glenn Kelman did. And he thinks it saved his business.
David Frum laments:Literature is a declining presence in our modern society, increasingly an academic preoccupation. Intelligent young people read literature at university, and when they graduate, they stop. When they feel the need to feed the imagination, they turn to movies or television shows.His evidence?Here in the blogosphere, certainly, the contrast is stark. I just did a Google blogsearch. For "Franz Kafka" and "The Trial," 7,900 entries. For HBO and "The Wire," 59,000. For HBO and "The Sopranos," 72,000. For "Battlestar Galactica," 399,000.Sorry, David, that won't fly. People don't do internet searches to prove their virtue; they use them to pursue their interest and pleasure. And there was never any population in any place in any era in which a large majority would not be more viscerally interested in The Wire, The Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica than in an abstruse and allegorical text like The Trial. In fact, I think The Trial's relative blog authority is remarkably strong. Must be all those paper assignments.
As everyone has read online, however, the future we expected has disappeared down the gullet of the Tab that Ate America. You might expect, then, that the icon of our understudy, substitute future is a fat, rumpled, rain-warped, and remaindered paperback.
But you would be wrong.
The internet is here to stay, and so are our increasingly wired -- make that wireless -- lives. Tocqueville wrote that Americans like liberty but love equality, to the point of gladly sacrificing the one to save the other, and he feared we would do just that. If we live in a time when Tocqueville sounds freshly prophetic on that score, the net remains an incongruous outpost of our love for liberty. While political and economic freedom, at least in the real world, have increasingly struck us as inconvenient time sucks, on the internet freedom is a breeze, as fun as it is easy. Online, our liberty is way too convenient to give up. And that's a good thing.-- JAMES POULOS
Billions of people across the world use cell phones. Though cell phones can be wonderful, liberating tools of communication, freeing us from the confines of an office and providing more leisure time, they often do the exact opposite. Cell phone use has blurred the boundaries between work and non-work time, increasing stress and tension within families and between friends. As Slate commented in his essay: "It seems the more 'connected' we are, the more detached we become."
. . . [But]there is a risk of being too connected. While I was hiking, I got lost a few times. I saw new sights and was surprised by unexpected landscapes and towns I wouldn't have otherwise come across. Back in the US, whenever I got lost, I would always call a friend for directions on my cell phone. With a cell phone, you're less likely to go down the wrong street and see new things or unexpectedly meet new people.
So, when I recently returned home to Burlington, Vermont, I got rid of my cell phone and traded in an old, rusty bike for a regular landline telephone that is connected to the wall and everything. Now, I go outside and don't immediately make a phone call or check my phone. Therefore, I've seen things in my neighbourhood I never noticed before, like a big flower garden around the block and artwork and sculptures down the road. Now that I'm not glued to my cell phone, I've met new people on the street and at the supermarket, struck up conversations with neighbours I haven't spoken with before and talk with my friends face-to-face instead of over the phone.
Instead of cutting me off from the world, getting rid of my cell phone has helped me get in touch with my community.