Monday, September 20, 2010

"Internet Sabbath"

An article caught my attention in July, and I saved it in my ‘Keep Near’ file. Do you see a problem here?

Anyway, the article was titled “Hamlet had a BlackBerry too”, and it was in the Toronto Star. The author, Jennifer Hunter, interviewed William Powers who wrote a book on that theme. Powers traced the history of ‘messaging’ and found that great thinkers and writers all the way back to Plato took advantage of new technology to bring ‘more efficient ways of communicating.’

With Plato, it was the alphabet itself, technology that let people move from their reliance on oral communication. For Hamlet, it was the tablet. Shakespeare gives one to Hamlet, and so it is assumed the Bard himself had one. The tablet was carried around to help people organize their day. And it could be wiped clean at night (If only!).

The problem has become that we have so much information flying around that our minds are going to be overwhelmed. Powers refers to Marshall McLuhan writings on media, and how they have created the ‘global village.’ But, he adds, McLuhan taught that we can take control of the process. And we do not have to blame our gadgets when we feel befuddled.

Control. There is a nice word.

Plato took control by going for walks. Powers has instituted a plan in his family – presumably with their agreement! – that is a variation on Plato. Every Friday night they unplug the modem and have an Internet Sabbath. “So simple, but it has revolutionized our lives.”

I know why the article caught my attention. The idea is extremely attractive.

I also know why it got buried in my ‘Keep Near’ file. I break out in a cold sweat thinking about it.

Well, I am ready to take the plunge. This Friday. I will keep you posted. Now where are those books I want to read? And aren’t there some crosswords I have saved? What about Scrabble with my wife…..?

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