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a man slumped on his desk, from 'The Sleep of Reason Produces



Love, the Internet

We saw a biplane flying an advertising banner over San Francisco today. I asked Ada what she thought it might be saying. She thought it probably said “Write more blogs! See you later, love, the Internet”.

Sadly I think it was actually telling people to drink more beer. I do agree that the Internet would be just the sort of thing to send up biplanes with its messages. I remember when Doug Lenat was first hinting that Cyc, his damn near immortal AI project, might soon be able to parse freeform English text and learn from it. It must have been around 1991. Somebody suggested they fork it, and feed one version carefully scanned in mass media, and flush the other’s brains out with a full USENET feed. When people anthropomorphise the Internet, it’s that crazy sibling that I imagine.

That image will be merged now with my experience earlier this week. I was walking back from a dental appointment downtown when I was overtaken and jostled by a bunch of people carrying placards, dressed badly in black, and wearing masks. I was walking behind them, so it was a little hard to tell at first, but I finally worked out they were Anonymous, walking back to the BART after a protest outside one of the SF Scientology centers. The teenage Anonymouser who bumped into me was incredibly apologetic, in an overly formal, kneejerk sarcastic way, which was delightful and just how I imagined Anonymous would be in real life. “Oh, did I accidentally kick your precious toes? I do so apologise — would you like me to pay you cash money for your slight inconvenience?” Maybe scattering its biplane pronouncements with obscure quotes from

I love how things can be Internet things: that it has a strange, distorted culture of its own, still. After all these years, it has failed to become a backgrounded, telephone kind of technology, but something that can still maintain an inner life of its own. I love how there are Internet jokes that barely work outside of the Internet, yet are delightful when they do. They seem like private jokes, widely-held.

Slightly embarrassing to write these things and then backdate them an hour. I’m sure no-one will notice. Wait — is this keyboard still on?

3 Responses to “Love, the Internet”

  1. anno Says:

    the internet would send dirigibles, ekranoplan and jetpacks.

  2. Danny O'Brien Says:

    Hovercraft! I think personal hovercraft are a very Internet form of travel.

  3. anno Says:

    true, but they would have to be personal hovercraft.


petit disclaimer:
My employer has enough opinions of its own, without having to have mine too.