Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Love the Internet

Because it makes something like this possible:

Here is New York from the Hudson River in 1903, traveling downriver to Battery Park.

The only things I recognize are the spire of Trinity Church and Castle Clinton (then known as Castle Garden) in Battery Park.

Here's the same view of Battery Park today going in the opposite direction.

So much that I have now came courtesy of the Internet, including Michael. What audience and career I have as an artist is almost entirely because of the internet. Without the internet, I would never have met Grandmere Mimi or Madpriest.
I'm a fan of much maligned Wikipedia. You couldn't find articles on punk bands or German jazz in the old World Book Encyclopedia (what I grew up with), still less discussion pages where the mavens would argue. The only thing you could find on gay and lesbian issues was one article on homosexuality (as mental illness and social malady). As for biases, Wikipedia is a lot more scrupulous about controversy and point of view than that old Cold War propaganda instrument, The World Book Encyclopedia ever was. Where else but on Wikipedia would someone take the trouble to photograph samples of stemmi from all the Florentine guilds and then arrange them in order from arti maggiori to arti piccoli?

Some people say that the internet is the greatest transformation since the invention of the printing press. Maybe so. Maybe not. We shall see. It is a great democratization of knowledge, perhaps comparable to the invention of the printing press. Unlike the printing press (and radio and TV) the internet is participatory. Perhaps the promise of the internet is a less alienated and less insular world.


Rick Allen makes this very good point in the comment thread on the previous post:
"The ability to reach things is, to me, nothing short of miraculous. This morning I am far from home, read something in a friend's blog mentioning Cincinatus. In a minute I had the Latin story from Livy before my eyes. Compare that to poor Chaucer, who had to travel to Italy to aquire a copy of the Decameron."
I've had many similar experiences myself.

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