Monday, July 21, 2008

Thank God the web exists

It's commonplace to warn users against things they might find on the Internet, which is not necessarily a synonym for perfect Information with a capital I. Wikipedia is not necessarily the biblical Word, nor Google, the Gospel. It's a fact that, in non-Macintosh circles, spam and viruses have given the Internet a bad reputation. The proliferation of hoaxes and urban myths has no doubt made many gullible folk believe that they should be wary of everything they encounter on the Internet. And sex, too, has often become a dirty word on the web, particularly when it veers towards nasty pornography and pedophilia.

In spite of all these negative connotations, I thank God daily for His creation of the Internet... even though it's only mentioned indirectly in the Bible, where we hear of evil Apple in Bill's luxurious garden of Eden. I'm convinced that, for once, God got his design work right, and gave us something infinitely more positive than the Crusades, the Inquisition, Nazism, Aids, etc. Thanks, God!

Seriously, people often suggest that TV is a far better medium for acquiring factual information than the Internet. Well, I disagree entirely. TV can often be rich in images and interviews, spectacular, captivating and highly persuasive. Even in France, though, TV transmits massive quantities of superficial bullshit. Why do I preface that last assertion with the qualifier "Even in France"? Well, if we were to talk about TV shows in many other countries [which I'll refrain from naming, so as not to offend any of my English-speaking friends], I would say that the bullshit degree often rises exponentially.

Here at Gamone, my satellite dish provides me with so many wonderful programs that I often have to force myself not to watch TV... otherwise I would never find time to get around to worthwhile tasks such as writing my Antipodes blog, or communicating with friends such as my dog Sophia and my billy-goat Gavroche, my donkeys Moshé and Mandrin, or Alison's dog Pif and her horses Bessy and Aigle [now quasi-permanent guests at Gavroche].

Last night, I watched what I thought to be an excellent program in the domain of paleo-anthropology named Search for the Ultimate Survivor, produced by John Rubin for National Geographic.

With the help of 36-year-old Louise Leakey, daughter of Richard Leakey, this documentary discussed the migration of Homo erectus beyond Africa. We encountered an alleged giant nicknamed Goliath, and an Indonesian midget known as Hobbit. All this was excellent TV, but I don't regret verifying things calmly, this morning, by in-depth web consultations. Maybe the ancient giants were simply well-fed creatures no bigger than modern humans, whereas the midgets might have resulted from nutritional circumstances. In both cases, it would appear to be unwise to talk of distinct subspecies of Homo erectus.

We've all seen the advertising punch line: You've seen the film; now you should read the book. An updated version: You've seen the TV documentary; now you should use the Internet to check the facts and put things in their proper perspective.

To conclude on a light note, here's a silly but delightful erectus joke:
In Australia, a visiting Japanese businessman is being interviewed by a young lady specialized in political journalism.

Journalist: In Japan, how often do you have major elections?

Japanese businessman: Me, have big election everly morning.

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