What the Internet hucksters won’t tell you is that the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don’t know what to ignore and what’s worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them–one’s a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn’t work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, “Too many [connections], try again later.”
Replace the word internet with the word Twitter and it’s clear that new forms of highly scalable, one-to-many communication have similar problems.
What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another.
Who would have guessed that the internet and social networks would have reduced the average degrees of separation from six to three in just a few years?