VITAL SIGNSrnHUMORrnInfomercial:rnAn Algorithmrnfor the Webrnby Marian Kester CoombsrnNeii’.s’ Item: “AI Gore helped lead the federalrnresponse to Y2K, hut that doesn’t meanrnhis own Internet operations went hug-free.rnThe computer glitch took a tiny bite out ofrnGore’s campaign Weh site. I’he damagerncame inside his “virtual town hall,” whererna message from a supporter was dated Januaryrn3, 19100. . . . Gore’s campaign . . .rnsaid it wasn’t exactly a major glitch, evenrnfor the man who once claimed to have inventedrnthe Internet” (Associated Press, ]anuaryrn3j.rnThe following “position paper” was alsornfound on Vice President Gore’s campaignrnwebsite on fanuar)’ 3, 19100.rnAmericans have enjoyed the servicerneconomy (*’lliank*Yon*Ver5’*Muclirn* ‘ ^’) for some vears, and now that we arernall hcing sencd and serviced, it has beenrndecided to fast-forward to the informationrnccononn.rnNaturalK”, the ^Tn’n’*M*TM econonnrndemanded a large degree of im erfaccrnwith other people —serving, beingrnserved. scricing, providing services —rnwhile the information economy will not.rnBut in this age of AIDS, perhaps that isrnnot for the worse. Truth to tell, thern* r”Y”’V*M” ‘ ^ ‘ was becoming somewhatrnstrained. People had already begunrn”coeooning.” “White flight” had evolvedrninto “flight,” period. From the servicernccononn to a relationship with one’srnscr’er, we now descn’e the hiternet.rnInformation is the lifeblood of tliernmodern sstem; the’ who traffic in itrnhac a corner on the open-ended futurernof oiu’ dnamie, emerging, interdependent,rnmultictdtural, supranational,rntechnoscnsitivc world. (“One mustrnbe absolutely modern.” Who saidrnthat? According to ‘Pelnet J IzutzutiquellePoseurEnchaine.rnhtm, a Minitcl site, it was Rimbaud, anrnAfrican poet after whom the baud raternwas named because he turned out crsern@ a faster clip than anyone else in thern18th century.) It won’t matter what yourndo. or what you arc, but what you access.rnAll conceivable data —census, marketing,rnfinancial, metallurgical, meteorological,rnlegal, biographical, horoscopic, p,sychometrie,rnantiquarian, astronomical,rngenealogical, lit-eritieal, personal-medical,rnseismographic—will soon be online,rnand access to —and manipulation of—rnthese data will mean the success or fiilurernof one’s oeufde vie. Gendemn, startrnvoiir search engines—@ the on-ramp tornthe Infobahn!rnOne cc|uity bug is still being addressed:rnWill everyone have equal accessrnto evberspace? It has been decided thatrnthe optimal way to guarantee this imperativernis to extend shareware to all, asrnneeded, with future wages or entitlementsrnheld as the quid pro bono. Forrnthose of historical brunt, this will be rumineseentrnof the “compan town” ofrnYore (a place in England), but this timernthe “company” will of course be global, arn ast improvement, by definihon, o er thernmerely local. To chat about this decision,rnwhich will be implemented no laterrnthan 19 April 2000, visit many hits should each person onrnthe planet get daily @ his or her ownrnhomepage? The frequency will surcK’rnvan’ @ first, but as the Web is rcgrdarizcdrnand modulated into the global data-consciousnessrnit is designed to become,rndoubtless the hit frequencies will as mptomaticallyrnconverge upon a homogenerousrnrate. (“Hegel’s Absolute Idea thinkingrnitself is one item diat’s listed whenrnyou search “global-nconsciousness” inrnExcite!, by the way. More data onrn”Hegel” are downloadable from suchrnsites as— if vour server accesses banned mediarn—and gopher:// Hegel, pronouncedrn”hee-]ELL,” was an Algerian Marxistrnwho wrote about how philosoph was thern”opium of the masses” and who believedrnthat the world would end in his lifetimernwhen the Big Bang reversed itself To seernif it did, click on “Big Bang” @ ftp:rn//ustare?.uk/~miff/star/S’l AR/S ‘1 ‘*A ^^^R */rnstart.htm.)rnAnother equih’ fssue people kee]3 raisingrnis: Does “the Net” the disadvantaged? The short answer:rnNo, you do not ha e to be <& anyrnparticular IQ level to parheipate in therninformation economy. You do not needrnto “understand” a fact in order to use it, asrnmany tenured universit” professors havernshown. These same professors furtherrnprostrate that to educate an open mind isrneasier by far than to re-educate (term verifiedrnby WordSearch) a mind that hasrnpreviously “considered.” Data exist independentrnof intelligence. Clearly, if informationrnis the question, ignorance must,rnpepso facto, be the answer. Obviously,rnwhat you don’t know can’t hurt you — eaurnde contraire, it can empower you. Unknownrnanswers modify the learningrncurve in unforeseeable ways, leaving alwaysrn”one more yawning imponderable /rnOut yonder for the yearning learner tornimponder / Or impound.” (French poetn’rnquotes courtesy of the previously aforementionedrnTelnet:// site,rnwhere “fr” signifies “frog”). In fact, FAQsrnare, in and of themseKes, facts. Simplyrnbeing in the vicinity of facts, studiesrnshow, has a contagious effect, jirst as beingrnnear handguns leads to an epidemicrnof both foreign and domestic violence.rn(Hit the “Stop Hitting Your Sfster” site @rnhttp://www.pis.aller/^cschumer.con.demn/rncon.fisc/con.trol.master-menu.html) Expertsrnagree that pointing and clickingrnserve the same neurophysicological functionrnas “conceptualization.” “Meaning”rnis a subfunction of fact/lsyte densih’, notrnthe other way around. Research conclusivelyrnsuggests that data insufficiencyrnleads to feelings of “meaninglessness”rnand other “spiritual” pschoastigmata.rnTheories have proven that the intellectuallyrnunderprivileged person vill actuallyrnenjoy a massive advantage over old-stylernconeeptualizers in the coming confluoridahonrnby having fewer objeehons to (a)rnuhlizing the new facHtious environmentrnor (b) accessing the opinionmaking functionsrnof the many BBS and newsgrouprnsites that have been created to ser’e therngrowing need for ideas, positions, identities,rncomebacks, and punchlines; or (c)rnreadily processing the reo]utionary newrnfacts being posted hourly—e en minutelyrn—on the Net. (This enhre paragraphrnfile, exclusive of parenthetical expressions,rnwas transferred from rodentrndatabase+erystal.mud.)rnIt is the Net, and we are the fish. Ourrnmedium: the thoughts of others. ComernMARCH 2000/43rnrnrn