Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Thanks to Will for directing me to this rather nice piece in praise of the Internet, drawn from an interview with Stephen Fry for BBC Radio 4, which will be broadcast this Thursday. You will be able to download a podcast here.

There is nothing exceptional in it, just some general sense directed against the doom mongers and hysterics who feel that the Internet marks the end of civilisation as we know it. I really liked this analogy:
But the internet is a city and, like any great city, it has monumental libraries and theatres and museums and places in which you can learn and pick up information and there are facilities for you that are astounding - specialised museums, not just general ones.

But there are also slums and there are red light districts and there are really sleazy areas where you wouldn't want your children wandering alone...

And I think people must understand that about the internet - it is a new city, it's a virtual city and there will be parts of it of course that they dislike, but you don't pull down London because it's got a red light district.
And as someone who has gone on record here about my preference for email, I also appreciated this:
It's a literary form in the most basic sense that you're writing and it's rather wonderful. The phone will be seen, I think, as a terrible aberration.
Last night I was with a part-time student giving some guidance on an essay he was writing. We searched the library catalogue, printed off a reading list, found a couple of good articles and then emailed an essay structure to his computer at home without leaving my office. I thought, "isn't the Internet wonderful", and for a part-time student with a family and busy working life it is a godsend. It is like all technologies, it is popular and growing for one reason and one reason alone. It is damn useful.

1 comment:

Harry Barnes said...

A topic of yours. Comments welcome. http://dronfieldblather.blogspot.com/2009/03/blathering-to-some-purpose.html