Nov. 2, 1999

Mr. Gates & Tangent

Bill Gates is reading my Journal!

As always, I'm obsessed with my sitemeter (that E-thingy way down at the bottom of the page.) Today it registered a hit from! It must be Bill himself.. I'm sure he doesn't allow his employees to surf around on company time!?

I wonder if Bill ever stops to think about the internet. (Actually I wonder if Bill remembers he didn't invent it!)

Last month, Biography on A&E TV Network put forth their version of the top 100 people of the millenium. Who would be number one? Not Hitler.. not George Washington. Or even Abe Lincoln. The person considered to have the farthest-reaching effect on society in the last 1000 years (and I heartily agree with this) was Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. And to me, the internet is (or will prove to be) the next most world-changing development. Perhaps the invention of radio comes close as well. Nothing else had such an impact on how we live, how we think, where we get our information and ideas from, and how we communicate with others. TV is just radio with pictures. The telephone is radio in private-chat. The automobile and airplane are just faster horses and ships.

The internet takes the concept of the printing press one step further - it makes it bi-directional. Individual people can not only receive fast, mass produced information and entertainment, but they too can produce it for public consumption! No longer do your words, images and even music have to be approved and edited to be accessible by the entire world.

And what of the slimy underbelly, the porn sites, the perverts, hatemongers and predators? It's the price we pay for the use of this incredible technology. Freedom of speech means sometimes hearing something you don't like. As it happens, it's as easy to avoid sites you consider to be objectionable as it is to find them. Parental supervision is required as well, just as it is to keep your child from wandering too close to the shore or into traffic.

Then again, your child may never have to shlep out to the library again.. even the Encyclopedia Britannica is free for all, online.

And Bill, if you're reading.. on behalf of all the girls who turned you down for dates in Junior High..........


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