Friday, February 27, 2004

Anna writes:

"Second comment: Our readings have established that the web can foster meaningful relationships that have a great deal to offer people--emotionally, intellectually, for entertainment, and otherwise. This is positive in itself, but the benefit is gained through the sterility of a monitor, a keyboard, and network of wires or waves keeping it all connected. In contrast, there is an entire sensual world of wonder beyond the networks."

I totally agree that it's a mistake to ignore the real world in favor of online interaction, but at the same time I feel like you're underestimating what can be done with a monitor, a keyboard, and a bunch of wires. A sonnet by Shakespeare is just ink applied by quill to dried, flattened wood pulp. That's how a Beethoven sonata starts too, and then it's played on a machine composed of keys, wires, and hammer-thingies. Miles Davis' trumpet is a chunk of brass with three buttons. I experience the sensual world by means of photons hitting my eyes, soundwaves hitting my ears, chemicals touching my nose and mouth, and pressure on my skin. (I'm not sure how that third eye on my forehead operates.) Computers engage three of our five senses, books and pianos only one each. And you can read a sonnet on a computer, or connect a musical instrument to it and do things you couldn't otherwise.

If Rheingold is moved by music or reads a sonnet, and his daughter discovers him crying, is that a shallow scene? What if the reincarnation of Shakespeare is a member of his online group, does that make his emotional reaction less shallow?

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