Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 9 - Let’s talk about culture and internet

A hot topic in many ways, not always positive. Internet has changed our life; it has made many professions, institutions redundant or has made many jobs easier such as technical tracer, typesetter in the printing business. Newspapers are today finished right at the computer with the help of so-called desktop-publishing systems. Programmes have been developed for automatic cutting of clothing, shaping replacement bones for hip or knee operations; the entire food production – adding of ingredients - filling into tins – finishing off, labeling – all is automatic – even killing the animals we are later to eat. (Perhaps one day, they grab us, put us on a belt and feed us automatically – there would be a lot of trouble saved, don’t you agree? When have you written your last letter and posted it at the post office? I have complained to my friends that my P.O.Box is always empty but I have one friend who regularly writes me postcards from around the world. Do you still pack birthday or Xmas parcels for your grandchildren or do you rather order it via internet, saves us trouble. We don’t even have to go into town to pay bills, we can entrust our bank to do it for us, now even the supermarkets. I refuse to do it because once in a while I need to see changes around town, meet people, perhaps buy a new something. We can stay at home put our feet up and read….yes but no longer proper books, you read them on the screen of your kindle or I-Pad or whatever. What do we need book shelves or even libraries for in the future? The books get only dusty. And if you want to call auntie back home or your children, switch on the computer and go skype-ing or Jajah-ing, you don’t have to invite them anymore because you can see them on your computer screen! Great, isn’t it? For the pool we have an automatic vacuum cleaner, why haven’t they developed one for the house yet? One that walks up and down the walls and across the rooms, picks up the crumbs behind you; we could stay on the couch much longer! What about families with kids? You can have an automatic baby sitter, a camera to alarm you when something is amiss, or for the older ones television to make them learn proper things. Ahh, and the computer for our dear children, with such nice games, or to go chatting with all sorts of people without having to leave the house, danagerous, dangerous….but, at least they are away from the street. No, not all is negative. I wouldn’t be able to work without my computer, without digital camera and processing the photos, and finally delivering everything by email. Where would I find background information without internet? The earliest known proposal for an online encyclopedia was made in 1993. As of October 2012, Wikipedia includes over 23 million freely usable articles in 285 languages written by over 36 million registered users and numerous anonymous contributors worldwide (read the history of wikipedia). I am so happy to be regularly informed what my friends do worldwide, if they have the flu or are un/happy; what kind of drink they are slurping the same moment you receive their mail from out of the cosmos. Travelers carry their laptop with them and communicate…we live in a virtual world, on a different level of consciousness…there is an entire new cosmos in our cosmos. Before going to see a doctor, would you not enter your little ailments and ask Dr. Google or join a forum? Ah yes, things are changing fast but they are not suited to make living in partnerships, neighbourhoods, in society easier, we create a world of singles, everybody sitting in front of his/her own computer, communicating by emails, facebook, mobile telephones, sms-ing….. I must admit that I am painting a worst case, but we are heading this way; I only ask myself what will happen if we are left without power on a more permanent basis, we will have to start from scratch, employ typesetters, and so on…write our letters by hand and walk to the post office, or we convey our messages by drum or smoke signals. I’d enjoy that for a change.

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