Our forefathers communicated by letter, often waiting days, weeks, or even months for a reply from Aunty Mabel in New Zealand. They spent a fortune on sets of encyclopaedias containing everything they would ever need to know about the world, although most people just left all 32 volumes sat on a shelf collecting dust.
Then, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, and so began the modern age of communication.
It has been hypothesised that if you give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, and an infinite amount of time, they will eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare.
With Tim Berners-Lee’s experiment now in full flow, the initial findings suggest it is unlikely.
In place of monkeys, think people, and for typewriters, substitute the internet.
The concept of the internet as a source of information, and entertainment is amazing. It is the world’s biggest literary library, the worlds biggest cat picture library, and the worlds most powerful forum. And with the likes of Facebook, you don’t even need to seek out specialist forums, because the entire population of the world is but one friend request away.
Our ancestors would surely have had something to say about it, but not half as much as current users of the internet have to say.
If you have an issue getting your Epson printer to print a spreadsheet, you simply post a question and wait for an answer.
If you need to make a gluten free apple cake, you simply post a question and wait for an answer.
If you want to find a car park near the Cardiff International Arena, you simply post a question and wait for an answer.
This is pretty much how it has been since the day Tim Berners-Lee said, “Let there be interconnection”.
Unfortunately, not everyone grasps the concept of asking for advice. It appears that many people interpret the sight of a question mark merely as a signal to start talking.
So, without reading, acknowledging or understanding the question they are triggered by some Pavlovian response to start dribbling out a reply.
And these people don’t operate alone. They invariably answer en masse, so your request for help is replied to with:
“I’ve never used an Epson. Sorry.”
“Me neither Hun. I once had a Canon printer that ran out of ink.”
“Gluten free tastes shit.”
“Have you tried bananas Hun. I think they’re gluten free.”
“Can’t help. I live in Dundee. Hope you get an answer Hun.”
“I’ve only been to Cardiff once. I saw Lee Evans.”
The answers are of absolutely no help to man nor beast, and beg the question, ‘what the fuck do you think you are contributing?
It also hinders the effectiveness of Google. The next time someone else needs to print a spreadsheet, make a gluten free cake or visit Cardiff, Google—under the misconception that if a question has an answer, it must be of some use—links them to the comments left by the fuckwits. On a daily basis, the internet is being scuppered by users for whom the concept of making useful comment is too complicated.
As the Berners-Leesian Monkeys tap away at their various keyboards, it looks unlikely that the Shakespeare project will reach a conclusion anytime soon.
It’s probably best that Shakespeare wrote his own complete works. Left to the internet commenting fraternity, literature would have a very different feel.
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 1, Scene 1)
The course of true love never did run smooth.
“Are you OK Hun? Take him for all you can.”
“What’s up Hun?”
(Richard III Act 5, Scene 4)
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
“I prefer cats.”
(Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 2)
But, for my own part, it was Greek to me.
“We went to Majorca, I think they speak French.”
“Get pizza, it’s easier to eat with your hands.”
There is clearly an argument for a simplified internet; a cut down version for folk who don’t read questions, but feel obliged to provide answers.
Or do you have a better suggestion?