Fake Steve (The Secret Diary of Steven Jobs) tells Elton John: “Elton, relax. All you have to do is smash your hard drive, and they can’t find anything.”
“I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span.”
Elton John’s remark caused a lot of reactions (including people saying he lost contact with reality -but this implies he once had some 🙂 ). However, his technophobia is far from an isolated affair. Slashdot reports him saying the Internet is “stopping people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff.” Sure, read on.
Generally speaking, lots of people (often older) are quite afraid of the Internet (and similar technologies), no matter what their profession or nationality. In the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia (and at the Observatorio de la Ciber Sociedad, here), Manuel Castells (www.uoc.edu) just published the results of his six-year-long research on the uses of the Internet, which confirms and enhances what other researchers are discovering all over the world. Simply put: the Internet enhances sociality and people’s activities in **all** dimensions of life. Castells says that older people among others “reject the technologies, cultures and relating modalities of the emerging society which already lives fully within the young.” He adds the Internet is “before all, an instrument of liberty and a space of autonomous communication”. There is no doubt that the Internet is part of our lives and is becoming the fundamental medium of our “social life, our work, our firms, our educational system”, etcetera.
Something quite powerful! There emerges a portrait of the Internet user which is pretty different from the stereotype of the antisocial geek who is removed from the ground, and lives of hacking or porno. On the contrary, Castells confirms the most active users of the Internet are “more sociable, have more friends, greater intensity in their family relationships, more professional drive, less likelihood of depression and isolation, more personal autonomy, more communication richness and greater social and political participation.”
Wow! How a different scheme from Elton’s stereotype! This confirms also my thought that the Web (as part of the Internet) is not just a tool or a medium anymore. The Web is weaving the very social fabric which we are living on… thus it is inevitably coming to be the fundamental territory of our educational systems. This is my research focus, which will bring me to another (later) post.