A funny thing about the communications revolution: the more revolutionary this communications revolution gets, the fewer and fewer products I use, the less and less I use of them, and the smaller their importance seems. I don't subscribe to a newspaper, have a Blackberry, I've never used the telegraph, I wouldn't even know how to use Morse Code, I would probably be too afraid to use the pony express, and if I ever got an iPod I'd probably drop a bomb on it rather than use it. On the other hand, I do have a home phone, which I use principally as a paperweight; a mobile phone, which I leave at home or turn off; a subscription to a magazine, though I don't ever read the news articles; some old envelopes lying around the house, though some of them are so old that I got them a decade ago, and I haven't ever used them; a shelf full of DVDs which I haven't seen, right next to the television which I never turn on. And then there's this laptop and the blog I log on to. Hello, everyone!
I don't even know how news gets through to me, since I don't read newspapers online either, and I read blogs for opinion and personal stories. The news stories somehow get filtered down through the internet, so by the time they get to me they've probably come fresh from a second hand source who got it from a third hand source who got it from a friend of a friend who is writing for a local newspaper in outer Transmistria, (circulation, two: a nanny and her goat).
This is what the communications revolution boils down to: when something goes wrong with your internet, you phone up your service provider, who is somewhere in Sydney, or Darwin, or Bangalore, and tell them about your problem, and they stare at their computer and try and find what the problem is with your internet connection without actually looking at your computer or your software, but by speaking to you and getting you to click through the internet yourself. When they're about halfway through this frustrating and meaningless process, something goes wrong, and your internet provider gets angry and starts speaking to you very slowly as if you were an idiot. You get angry in turn, swear at them, and ask for them name (which they'd already given to you at the start, but you'd forgotten), and say you could just as easily go to another service provider. Then your internet provider hangs up on you, and five minutes later you get another phone call back from them. They give you a false name (you know it's false because you can understand it) and tell you that the other person you spoke to, who oddly has a voice that is exactly like the person that you're speaking to now, had phone problems and that they (that is, the person who is speaking to you now but has a voice that is exactly like the other person) will be dealing with your problem now. Then you spend another half an hour on the phone to them, test everything on your modem and computer, and they conclude that the problem is either a problem with your modem or computer, and then you both have a competition to see who can hang up first.
Then a few days later Kingsley comes round to your house, concludes that the internet switch on your computer has gone off, turns it on, and everything works.
Amazing! World-changing! Revolutionary!
Though I've had enough of the communications revolution for the moment. I might hang up this blog for the day and go out and get into a face-to-face argument with the tram driver about the Napoleonic wars and the Prime Ministership of Lord Wellington, like every good gentleman should.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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