(FT) Ben Hammersley reviews three new books on the Internet as it turns 21 years old

The compound effect of all these online relationships ”“ the massive global interconnectivity so loved by the cyberutopians ”“ is that “networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone”. The quality of the interaction is the emotional equivalent of junk food; it may fill you up but it hardly nourishes.

Such a danger might have been acceptable when social networks were self-selecting in their membership: the only people capable of getting on to a bulletin board in the mid-1980s had already followed a steep learning curve and weren’t limited in their social lives to the online world. But today, the network is everywhere, and our children are “Digital Natives” who are continually online.

So [Sherry] Turkle rails against what she sees as the falsely consoling effect of cyberspace ”“ whether it is the quality of online relationships or the emotional crutch provided by the scope for endless self-reinvention….

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, History, Science & Technology

3 comments on “(FT) Ben Hammersley reviews three new books on the Internet as it turns 21 years old

  1. Marie Blocher says:

    Slight correction – It is the World Wide Web that is 21 years old. The Internet existed a good many years before that, and was previously called the DARPA net. There was also the USEnet, which was mostly dial-up connections between universities and email used a store and forward method to get where it was going. It the fall of 1990, I sent my daughter, who was a frosh at Jacksonville University, an email that went from DEC’s computer in Massachusetts to the University of Texas, to Georgia Tech and then to the University of North Florida, and finally to Jacksonville U. Only took three days!
    Marie Blocher
    former DARPAnet wizard

  2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    While we’re celebrating, let’s hear it for GOPHER ! I remember the big celebration when the one-hundredth GOPHER site came on line, then the one-thousandth. Then we needed ARCHIE (to gopher the GOPHERs) and then VERONICA (to gopher the ARCHIEs).

    Finally, along came MOSAIC and we were decidedly on the road to today’s web. I still FTP the occasional file, but increasingly it is merely for old-times’ sake … rather like I used to key out messages in CW (Morse Code) back in my old radio days.

  3. Marie Blocher says:

    Hey Bart, I’ll bet you even used Telnet.
    I still use FTP to upload files when I update the church website, and my own genealogy website.
    I still remember being introduced to MOSAIC in 1992, I believe. Wasn’t available on the VMS or Unix systems I used at work, but when I got my second IBM compatible, Netscape was one of the first things I acquired. (First IBM
    compatible only had 1 MB of memory, so would barely run Windows, but it sure beat the CPm machine with the 5″ floppies. )