The Washington Post

Friday Rant: New ideas getting old edition

I went to a talk recently given by a very very well-placed person or two in the tech world. I’ll leave that ambiguous, because it doesn’t matter which two they were. They had little to say. I can summarize it for you, at least the part I stayed awake for.  Ready???

The Internet is changing the world! New channels of communication are allowing people new networking opportunities that they never had before! And this is good, in that it facilitates democracy and accountability! But wait! In some places, like China, it is CONTROLLED and can act as yet another force of repression! How will this work out in the end? We’re optimists by nature, so we’re guessing it will work out well, but the ultimate answer is: TIME WILL TELL! Let me nudge you here in a polite stranger-nudging way to rouse you from your slumber with the bare ends of this 220 volt wire.

I don’t know about you, but I am fatigued beyond description with the standard “ideas” of the tech revolution. Is this all there is? Yes, I am empowered by all the New Ways to Use Information, and will get more Empowered by the day. This will continue and only accelerate, but have you begun to notice how after all these years of ever-greater infopowerment, you’re not not feeling like a better, happier person yet? Does it sometimes feel like we’re just hammering gold coins out into gold foil? A planet wide and two atoms in depth? When do our attention spans stop shortening?  When does the person across from you resume being more compelling than your iphone? Does information technology enlarge the soul, or nano-ize it?.  I’m not sure that Google Glass is going to let us see into there.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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