Computers in the Media

By (John Laviolette)
Date: 25 Nov 1994

I hereby move that, to encourage people to remove "alt.slack" from the
distribution for the "LONGEST PALINDROME" and other cascades, we start
inserting copies of this SONOFABITCHINGLY TERRIFIC rant into the thread...
((refering to Stang notes for Dallas Video Festival (Rev-X Ch.3 clips)))

HELL! The easiest way to keep THEM from subverting alt.slack to stupid
purposes is to subvert THEIR threads to OUR purposes. Instead of begging
them to leave us alone, FORCE them to HEAR US ROAR.


I always laugh at the Immedia's portrayal of computers, virtual reality,
InterNet, and the like. On the one hand, they make such a big deal about
something that (as you said,) is REALLY OLD. The Internet's been around
since -- when? the '60s? Smaller bulletin boards are swarming like
roaches across America -- and the local news is just now talking about
this "new frightening trend."

For that matter, think of all the stuff available by computer that the
snews is whispering paranoid words of warning over... details on making
bombs (The Anarchist Cookbook.) NBC Dateline made a big deal about the
way kids are getting this information, and engaged in on-screen
hangwringing over What To Do about this horrible problem... as if NOBODY
could have found out how to build a bomb during the preceding few
centuries of literacy!

Or computer pornography. Computer porn is generally so PATHETIC, why
does anyone even CARE? Sure, kids are downloading porn -- usually from
other kids. And usually, it's the kind of porn only a kid would think is
exciting... fuzzy pictures of fuzzy privates. wow. Twenty years ago, I
saw porn mags that another kid "found" in someone's mailbox. And I
imagine most kids had similar experiences, no matter how far back you
go. Back in ANCIENT times, you could see naked statues anywhere you
went. But we wouldn't want our kids to download fuzzy pictures!

On the other hand, the Con wants us to believe that this NEW WAVE, the
Information Revolution and InfoBahn, is some TREMEMDOUS event... either
for good or ill... I think it's all crap. The worst is this garbage
about "computer literacy". We never talk about "lightswitch literacy" --
we just took new technology and made it simple to use. This is where
computer technology is heading: "computer literacy" is Mad Avenue BS,
more fear-words to get people to buy PCs. And Al Gore's pumping the
Information Superhighway is just part of a gov't plan to get its sticky,
rancid fingers on something that's existed quite happily WITHOUT the need
for a gov't sponsored "developement program".

But the worries over how computers are going to destroy our society are
pretty much crap, too. I can agree with your basic observations, Your
Stangness; I agree that virtual reality without any "real" reality to
make the rest meaningful is a dark trap for the soul, especially the Pink
soulette. And the weird effect that Television and Advertising has had
on our psyches -- what Joel Achenbach called Creeping Surrealism -- is
perhaps a large part of the problems we've made for ourselves.

But "real" reality is just too REAL to deny, for long. And too exciting,
once someone gets a real taste of it. I doubt the "Night Gallery" vision
of a world where no one leaves the Machine: there will be a few zomboid,
pasty-faced Plug'n'Play nerds, just as there are a few heroin addicts, a
few Jehovah's Witnesses, a few politicians.

The danger is not from Virtual Reality -- at least, not the
computerized crime. It's those damn worlds we make with our heads! People
lose contact with Reality all the time, computer or no, because they
prefer the ILLUSION (Maya) to the REAL THING.

Only: the REAL THING can never be put into words, can never be
described. Either you GET IT, or you don't. And the Pinks don't get
it. That's what makes 'em Pink.

As for literacy dying because of computers: perhaps at first. Because
people have forgotten what writing is REALLY about. They think literacy
is necessary to keep information alive. IF all books were good for was a
place to store information, why WOULD we still need literacy, with the
ability to record SPOKEN words?

Writing develops critical reasoning. THAT is was books provide that
pictures, computer icons, and audio tape don't: the ability to freeze
thoughts, to dissect them, to go back and forth, in and around the
individual concepts and examine them.

BUT... we won't need to be afraid of the Virtual World emerging... let's
not forget the scary future of nanotechnology! Once virtual reality and
nanotechnology are linked together, the dividing line between the virtual
world and the "real" world will be erased, and EVERYTHING WILL BE REAL.

----John Laviolette---------|-------His Most Feathered Eminence------|

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