Internet has widespread impact

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

For those of us caught in the betwixt and between generation, the Internet is a mixed blessing. By betwixt and between, I mean those of us who were born and spent some of our adult lives before PCs, yet who will spend a significant amount of our working lives in the presence of and dependent upon computers.

Some of those things that are advantages one may also see as disadvantages.

For example, I put an inquiry out on the Decoy Carvers’ Forum, attempting to locate Jim Gibbs and Guy Leslie, two Lake Erie-area carvers who were mentors to me in the late 1980s, and with whom I had lost touch in the early 1990s.

The good news was that, within 48 hours, I had received responses from Lake Erie-area carvers who knew the whereabouts of Guy and Jim. The bad news is that both men died, Jim about six years ago, and Guy about 10.

Is it better to find out bad news so instantly, or would I have preferred going on blissfully ignorant of why my telephone searches had yielded no result?

Here’s another example. Many hotel or motel lobbies now have Internet access for customers. When my grandson and I see something that inspires his curiosity, we often look for information about that subject online. Last year, while going to Albuquerque, we saw a number of ravens and decided when we had checked in to look up ravens online.

When I looked away for a minute, and he said, “Oh, Dada, that’s nasty!” I knew it was time to shut off the computer. How would I have known that there is apparently an exotic dancer who goes by the stage name Raven? Fortunately, he is still at the age where “nasty” repulses, rather than attracts. I trust we will not have this problem if we look up elephants.

The instant access to information, at least a thumbnail sketch to satisfy the curiosity of a 7-year-old, is definitely good. And like most censorship, I believe it is our job as parents, teachers and adults to take charge of the censorship, rather than expecting someone else to do it for us.

Nonetheless, I suspect many adults have a story similar to the Raven incident.

E-mails open up another entire line of questions. There are stories, both true and urban myth, about e-mails that have gone to the wrong person, causing everything from embarrassment to firings. In many cases, I tend to think those e-mails end up exactly where they ought to be, which is not necessarily where the sender intended for them to go.

I once worked for a cabinetmaker whose rule of operation, by no means original, was “measure twice, cut once.” That could be adapted to “address twice, send once.”

A final word about popups, and oddly enough, one for “radio guide something or other” just forced its way on my screen, interrupting this column. Every bit of technology has its detractions. Yes, they are annoying, they can be intrusive, and if you freak and begin pushing buttons randomly when one interrupts you, you may wipe out whatever you are working on. But are they worth a skyrocketing blood pressure? Not really.

It will be interesting to see how the Internet continues to impact culture over the next 50 years.