No them out there, just an awful lot of us


Been travelling for a while. While I was catching up on my reading, I was reminded of a much-loved Douglas Adams quote in a post by Kevin Anderson. [Now Kevin is someone I read regularly and would recommend wholeheartedly]. Anyway, I just had to share the Adams quote again, for those who may not have seen it first time round a decade or so ago:

Because the Internet is so new we still don’t really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that’s what we’re used to. So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back – like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust – of course you can’t, it’s just people talking – but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV – a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.

It’s worth reading the whole Adams post, which you can find here. Things that were synchronous are becoming asynchronous as well; things that were asynchronous are becoming synchronous as well; we have a lot to learn about whom and what and when we trust as a result.

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