Tidbits

A few things I came across in the last while interested me...

  • [Ian Malcolm] "Although personally, I think cyberspace means the end of our species."
    [Susan Harding] "Yes? Why is that?"
    "Because it means the end of innovation," Malcolm said. "This idea that the whole world is wired together is mass death. Every biologist knows that small groups in isolation evolve fastest. You put a thousand birds on an ocean island and they'll evolve very fast. You put ten thousand on a big continent, and their evolution slows down. Now, for our own species, evolution occurs mostly through our behavior. We innovate new behavior to adapt. And everybody on earth knows that innovation only occurs in small groups. Put three people on a committee and they may get something done. Ten people, and it gets harder. Thirty people, nothing happens. Thirty million, it becomes impossible. That's the effect of mass media -- it keeps anything from happening. It makes every place the same...Regional differences vanish. All differences vanish. In a mass media world, there's less of everything except the top ten books, records, movies, ideas. People worry about losing species diversity in the rain forest. But what about intellectual diversity -- our most necessary resource? That's disappearing faster than trees. But we haven't figured that out, so now we're planning to put five billion people together in cyberspace. And it'll freeze the entire species. Everything will stop dead in its tracks. Everyone will think the same thing at the same time. Global uniformity."

    Michael Crichton, The Lost World (Knopf, 1995), p. 311-312.

    I read the sequel to Jurassic Park recently and this passage really popped out at me. I tend to disagree with Crichton's assertions quite often, but this passage highlights something I've believed for quite a while. While I personally love email, I'm beginning to believe that the Internet is one big wasteland of boredom. Even with all the pages, only a limited number (both conservative and liberal) offer different perspectives on the world.

    Indeed, I have the same reservations about CNN. With its penetration over the globe, we can be happy that more people have access to information. But with this benefit also comes a huge minus. This information comes from single perspective. All over the world different people are exposed to one uniform view point. Scary stuff...

    The remedy? If you are on the Internet, then get involved. If you have something intelligent to say...say it. It may just save the globe.

  • What was less shocking than Hillary Clinton admitting that she had conservations with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi was the media's attempt to normalize the behavior. The morning after Woodward's interview all the morning talk shows took a decidedly passive stance to the news. I'm 25 years old, but I remember quite well the storm of controversy and laughter after it came out that Nancy Reagan consulted with an astrologer. I'm less concerned by Clinton's kookiness than I am with the American media glossing over it. If anything, though, this does go a long way to prove my secret suspicion that Hillary Clinton was one of those New Agers...I wonder if Yanni was playing in the background...

  • Remember the bitter civil servants strike in Ontario just a few months ago? Apparently the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) doesn't. Faced with a huge deficit after their strike against the Harris government, they have decided to lay off 50 of 240 staffers and want concessions on issues including pensions, working conditions and contracting out. The Ontario Public Service Staff Union claims OPSEU is treating them like the Harris government treated OPSEU members.

    In one stroke they plan on laying off 21 per cent of their staffers. They want many of the same things that the Harris government wanted from OPSEU. I have no problems with OPSEU's actions but it makes me wonder why they couldn't understand why the Harris government had to do the same thing. The Ontario government itself is heavily in debt and needed the concessions they asked for. OPSEU's actions reek of hypocrisy. They should apologize to the public and to the Harris government and stop organizing their bogus poorly attended strikes around Ontario.



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