Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I've got the Internet on the brain today and the news is only feeding my fixation. It all started yesterday, when I was reading an annual report from Gartner (industry analysts) called "Emerging Tech Trends Analysis." (I had to put down the porn and everything.) Mind you, it's for work so I skimmed over most of it but stopped cold when I got to this part:

"By 2010, 70% of the population in developed nations will spend 10 times longer per day interacting with people in the e-world than in the physical one."

Of course, my first thought was, "Whoa. I'm gonna have to blog about this."

I also recently read another article that teaches parents about cyber-bullies and how to deal with them. It offered some chilling examples – emails and IMs that reveal the usual cruelty of adolescents combined with the safety of anonymity – as well as these enlightening stats:

  • 90% of middle school students have had their feelings hurt online
  • 75% have visited a Web site bashing another student
  • 40% have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully who then locked them out of their own account and then sent communication posing as them (WTF?)
  • Just 15% of parents know what cyber bullying is

Besides making me really happy not to be a teenager circa 2007, it drives home the former stat in a big way. The Web offers a voice and sometimes, real power to reach out and touch people, or metaphorically and emotionally bash them in the head. Previously, it was just the bigger kids v. smaller kids, rich v. poor; fat v. thin, pretty v. not-so-much but the Internet is the great equalizer – like pooping and death. Basically, if you can punch a keyboard, you're in the game.

THEN, today's news brought this fresh humdinger. Seems an Egyptian blogger was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Egypt's president, "sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown." Hmmm, well, so much for anonymity. Makes me feel pretty damn lucky that I can post things like "Dick Cheney is a Scrotum-Less Toad" or "The National Disgrace Continues" without being thrown in the brig. At least not yet … though I'd be disappointed if there wasn't a file on me somewhere.

This brings up another point. When I get together with my blogger buddies, we often discuss the decision to use our own name v. using a nickname or a made up one. It never occurred to me to make one up because my ego is the size of Texas and if I accidentally made a clever turn of phrase on Post #87, dammit, I would like Heather Clisby to have full credit.

On the other hand, there are several bizarre stories in me that could never, ever be posted here because a) my family reads this b) I represent large corporations and would like avoid job loss and subsequent litigation, and finally, c) I'm considering running on the Obama ticket, just to fuck with Hillary. Shmeder recently pondered this dual-existence when she accidentally outed herself to her sister, wondering, "How could anyone who knows me not know?" I guess I see it as two worlds co-existing in a parallel universe with very few bridges across and even fewer canoes.

Recently, I got a call from a friend who is a fast-talker. She went on and on about her life and I loved it because I miss her so. At one point she stopped to breathe and said, "I'm sorry, I should ask about your life but I read your blog so I kind of feel up to date. ANYWAY, so back to me … " Charming as hell.

One my very, very favorite bloggers, "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman" recently pulled out a fan letter which describes this one-sided feeling perfectly:

"Dear Ree,
After months of reading your blog on a daily basis, with the exception of maybe a few days my internet was down, I decided it was time to send you an email. First and foremost, it has been nice getting to know you through your writings, photos, and bodily functions. It almost seems as if we saw each other at Albertson's one day and decided to start emailing. But soon after we met I was in a disfiguring accident and fell into a vegetative state. You continued to email me daily even though I was now the “vegetable boy” and could not communicate back to you. The doctors reported that staying in contact with friends and family was important to my recovery so you set up this elaborate website to communicate your daily activities to me. They (the hospital nursing staff) mounted a laptop directly above my head and every time they would play a burp or juice-bag episode they noticed that my thumbs would move.


I can only hope that ClizBiz will someday make somebody's thumbs move in the same disturbing way.

In the meantime, I am gearing up to attend SXSW again this year, March 9-17. DO expect daily reports, same as last year. However, this time I've opted to only focus on the film and interactive portion of the festival. (Frankly, Austin offers great music year-round – too many damn people in the way at SXSW-Music Fest.)

Check out some of the panels for blogging and whatnot, including a keynote by Dan Rather. (Fang, eat your heart out!) I'm especially interested in "Do You Blog on the First Date?" which will discuss the ethics of airing personal details of one's life, which often includes juicy bits on other people. Also, there's another one called, "The Rise of the Blogebrity", which I think Howard should be sitting in on, with his rising fame and all.

Thinking about all this, I recall a comment that Kath, who lives way, way out near DIA, once made. "Hey man, I practically live in Kansas. My whole world is online – the Internet is my connection to the outside world." Too true. Working from my little Denver apartment and looking to buy a home, I now realize I can live anywhere – as long as I can get online. I just hope I don't forget how to talk.


Howard said...

Hmmm. Blogebrity. Doesn't really flow off the tongue, but I like it. And I can't wait to hear about SXSW! I need to see if there are any bands I love playing and see if you can force an autograph out of them. :)

ClizBiz said...

Sure! I can be your stalker-by-proxy.

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