A Commonplace Book

Home | Authors Index | Word Index | Random Quote | Advanced Search | About...

Quotations About The Web

Theodore Roszak
Like all cults, this one also has the intention of enlisting mindless allegiance and acquiescence. People who have no clear idea of what they mean by information or why they should want so much of it are nonetheless prepared to believe that we live in an Information Age, which makes every computer around us what the relics of the True Cross were in the Age of Faith: emblems of salvation.
Neil Postman
Schools are not now and have never been largely about getting information to children. That has been on the schools' agenda, of course, but has always been way down on the list. For technological utopians, the computer vaults information-access to the top.... The goal of giving people more information faster, more conveniently and in more diverse forms was the main technological thrust of the nineteenth century. Some folks haven't noticed it but that problem was largely solved, so that for almost a hundred years there has been more information available to the young outside the school than inside. That did not make schools obsolete, nor does it now make them obsolete.... [The] problem is not how to get access to a well-structured algebra lesson but what to do with all the information available...

Alan Kay

Any problem the schools cannot solve without computers, they cannot solve with them.
Douglas Adams
This is another example of the fact that The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy will employ anybody who wants to walk straight in off the street and get ripped off, especially if they happen to walk in off the street during the afternoon, when very few of the regular staff are there.... He [founding editor of the Hitchhiker's Guide, Hurling Frootmig] also started to develop and explore the role of the editorial lunch-break which was subsequently to play such a crucial part in the Guide's history, since it meant that most of the actual work got done by any passing stranger who happened to wander into the empty offices on an afternoon and saw something worth doing.

Sven Birkerts

Since World War II we have stepped, collectively, out of an ancient and familiar solitude and into an enormous web of inponderable linkages.

William Blake

I must Create a System or be enslav'd by another Man's.

Stephen L. Talbott

The dissonance occurs only when one tries to imagine these same adventurers standing in a library, surrounded in three dimensions by records of human achievement far surpassing what is now Net-accessible. Would there, in these surroundings, be the same, breathless investigation of every room and shelf, the same shouts of glee at finding this collection of art prints or that provocative series of essays or these journalistic reports on current events?

Suck, Jan.10,1996

It's not as the futurists
predicted - an informational
economy, based on the processing
of facts and data. No one's
processing the information they
come across on the Web - hell,
we don't even read it. Nope,
they just note that a site might
have some value at some unknown
later date, bookmark it, and
move on, to bookmark the next
unread site.

Peter Lymann

Just as the facsimile became the medium of choice for publications by political exiles with access to telephone technology, so the Web has become a medium for political organizations of social movements that have no political voice...
"What is a Digital Library?" Dædalus Fall 1996. p19.

Henry David Thoreau . Walden (1854)

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

Jorge Luis Borges "The Library of Babel" (1941)

When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose eloquent solution did not exist in some hexagon.

... As was natural, this inordinate hope was followed by an excessive depression. The certitude that some shelf in some hexagon held precious books and that these precious books were inaccessible, seemed almost intolerable.

Stanislaw Lem Imaginary Magnitude (1981)

Are we not threatened with a flood of information? And is this not the monstrousness of it, that it crushes beauty by means of beauty, and annihilates truth by means of truth? For the sound of a million Shakespeares would produce the very same furious din and hubbub as the sound of a herd of prairie buffalo or sea billows. Such vastly multiplied content in collision brings no credit to thought, but rather its destruction. When faced with such a fate, is not Silence alone the redeeming Ark of the Covenant between the Creator and the Reader, since the Creator gains merit by refraining from spinning out just any old content, and the Reader gains it by praising such manifest self-denial?
Kurt Andersen. "The Age of Unreason" New Yorker (2/3/1997)

This laissez-faire ultra-populism finds its perfect medium in the Internet. Not only is every citizen entitled to his or her opinion but he or she is entitled to deliver it instantaneously, studded with chunks of fake information, to the whole world.

...[One site] contains dozens of dense, competently written reports on subjects as various as the Hale-Bopp coment, AIDS, and TWA flight 800, and its frequently updated pages look as professional as those of brand-name news-media sites; the articles assert, however, that the comet may be travelling alongside "a gigantic spacecraft," that H.I.V. grew out of a "U.S. biowarfare program," and that Flight 800 was brought down by "a rift in the space-time continuum."

Thanks to the Web, amateurism and spuriousness no longer need look amateurish or spurious.

Joseph Bernstein. Alienated, Alone And Angry (2019)

Here is the most alienating fact about the Digital Nation we live in: It incentivizes forms of engagement that make Americans feel less empowered and more alone than ever, to the benefit of very few. It seizes some of the best, noblest human instincts -- to share, to know, to connect, to belong -- and harnesses them to a degrading system of profit. Anesthetization to these conditions is dangerous. Cynicism and powerlessness are the hallmarks of another form of digital life, an authoritarian one Americans should badly want to avoid.