Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Googling

So an acquaintance here on the island found on the internet the letter from Thomas Huxley to Frederick Dyster that I mentioned in an earlier post.

Surely the internet, this instantly available and searchable electronic archive -- Teilhard de Chardin's Noosphere -- is the most important technological innovation of our time. Anyone with a computer and a phone line can have access to a sprawling universe of information both useful and frivolous, authoritative and spurious, elevating and degrading. I can research and write from anywhere in the world.

The social implications remain to be seen. The borderless, uncensored anarchy of the internet liberates the individual from those who previously held the keys to information -- governments, priests and mullahs, doctors, travel agents, car dealers, establishment scientists, and so on -- and that can be empowering. It also sets individuals adrift on an sea of unfiltered fact and foolishness without compass or map, and that can be scary.