Stinks up the house, though . . .
Setanta, although patiodog once disagreed with me, I think that Marshall McLuhan was a modern day prophet. He understood the impact of media long before the advent of the pc:
"After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man - the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media."
Man invents and the inventions ultimately control him.
There is indeed one aspect of the web "mentality" that may be the beginning of something "huge".
A personality in cyberspace is possessed of only the trappings of consciousness; while there are images galore available in every flavour, and degree of complete revelation, you never really know if these are contrived, totally deceitful, or dead accurate; the only thing of which we can be sure, is that the personality that appears to us from the keys of a remote station is, to the best of its ability to communicate, the real thing.
We are dimembering the human; finally separating the sentience from the actual; as we correspond digitally, we also create an electronic trail; a history of the individual, which may some day totally separate into the ether, and exist as an entity in hyperspace.
My body is floating in space
My mind is orbit
On a rocket
To the fourth dimension
Being . . .
Firstly one must remember that there really are very few people that have access to the net. While it is true that million do the numbers of people who do not have computer still out number those who do.
Where I am staying now there is a computer but until I started staying here it was never used except for the e-mailing of photos of grand children.
For me the net is a matter of habit. The first few weeks I was in total puter withdrawl and missed my on line friends. Much time was spent wondering what was going on at A2k. But now I am somewhat used to it - being without instant computer access. Not only is there no high speed cable there is not a dedicated phone line. Sheesh how did this happen to a nice girl like me.
Have been reading this thread with great interest. I think both Farmerman and Setanta have said, rightly, that it's really too early in the history of the 'net to assess its influence on everyday affairs. But the original question, if I understood it aright, was 'has it created a new kind of community'? Frankly, I don't know. But I do have some opinions on this subject. (Actually, I have some opinions on just about every subject. But I try to stifle myself.)
Setanta, you keep saying that, for most people, the computer is just a 'toy.' This is absolutely true. But, then, that's all the automobile was in the begining. You used it on Sundays, maybe, if you had one, because there weren't too many paved roads to make it a reasonable conveyance for serious travel. But, ahh, how it changed everything in the long run! The motor car didn't just change the way we move about. It changed social interactions in totally unexpected ways. In the begining, who could have guessed, for example, that the auto would change the dating and courtship customs of the young? It changed entirely the way young couples interact. In my grandpa's day, a young man would take a young lady to a church social, they would go for a sedate walk, he would sit in her front parlor, discussing whatever with her parents. The car changed all that utterly.
What's that got to do with www? I don't know, and that is my point. We cannot yet predict how much universal -- or near-universal -- computer use will alter the social milieu. Yes, I think the computer is creating a whole new kind of community. Its obvious usefulness for research, instant communication etc. etc. are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Good quote from McLuhan, Joanne.
The internet is not going to 'educate' the masses to the same level of knowledge or belief in anything, and that includes science, religion, and politics. It will have its pros and cons for any mode of communication; garbage in, garbage out. It's up to us to filter the bad info with the good. Some will not have the ability to utilize the web to anything approaching maximum utility - me included. What it does do is allow me to join into a chat room like A2K, and offer my opinion on many subjects. It's both educational and fun, and it allows us to communicate with anybody else in this small world that wants to participate. It's value is determined by each individual. Having participated in the London Gathering last March, I've of the opinion that most that participate are "above average" in everything. c.i.