Backtracking

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Words are a river flowing through us all. For centuries, the current was a slow trickle from one mouth to another. Writing and then the printing press quickened the stream. Broadcasting and now the internet have accelerated the flow of words to a torrent hurtling through a narrow canyon … a metaphor with thrilling but somewhat discomforting implications. Are too many words rushing by too fast to be read? And has our round-the-clock rolling-news environment made analysis any easier?

Where our ancestors – even more divided by tribal allegiance, mother tongue and sheer geography than we are – might have felt uneasy and perhaps overwhelmed, we 21st century cybernauts have learned to ride the wave and surf our brave new world of instant communication in search of a new community of ideas. What that will be like, of course, we won’t know until we find it. After all, Columbus never set out to discover America … and I wasn’t any clearer about my destination five months ago, when I began posting online with this tentative offering.

Hello World  My voyage of exploration begins. I want to recapture the spirit of childhood, when we would set out from home with the deliberate aim of getting hopelessly lost. No point in going over old ground, after all …

A lofty mission statement, indeed, which I proceeded to trash with nostalgic posts about my mother and my grandfather and my musical memories. It seems that I’ve barely set foot out of the house. Perhaps I’ve become agoraphobic in my old age, in which case who am I to judge today’s housebound youngsters – as I did in this earlier post?

Freedom to Roam I find it sad that children today don’t occupy the streets and open spaces like we did when I was young. There have always been risks in such freedom but we made a habit of going around with our friends, rarely if ever alone. We knew the dangers and were able to avoid them. So many kids were out and about, there was safety in numbers. With more adults around, too, we behaved ourselves most of the time because we didn’t want to get into trouble. In this way, we learned how to take responsibility for ourselves.

Sitting alone in your bedroom is not a healthy substitute, especially when you factor in the online risks and bad cyberspace influences that would shock many parents. It’s a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, I’m afraid. Let’s make the open air a place for children again, providing facilities and a sensible but not stifling adult presence. Who knows, this could be a way to develop better communities in future …

Perhaps the missing adult influence will be found online in future … but to interrupt myself here, not only am I going over old ground but starting to repeat what I’ve already said. It must be my age. Then again, it could be a valiant attempt to clarify what I’m hoping to achieve with Nomad in Cyberspace. There will be more on music, for sure, and maybe more than music. Perhaps all bloggers go through a period of navel-gazing before discovering what it is they’re really trying to say.

Who knows? Not me, yet, but watch this space … and weren’t cybernauts those metal monsters in old Doctor Who episodes?

Postscript

Who needs a memory when we have the internet? The click of a button brings me news that those shiny aliens in Doctor Who were the Cybermen.

cybermen

I also learn, with uncanny speed, that the Cybernauts appeared in The Avengers.

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Now that technology has cleared that up, can anyone human suggest another word that could be used to describe online adventurers? Or should we just adopt the word cybernaut, despite its sinister associations?

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