Editorial – October 2016: The future is here and now but never gone.

The future is here and now but never gone.

Hello everyone

On a commercial level, the Internet has been in full swing since the early 1990s and kind of taken over the world, rather too quickly for most governments to catch up, at least where crime and legalities, not to mention taxes of some companies are concerned. Still haven’t quite figured that out yet but I’m sure with multiple countries that it’s a political and legal nightmare to unravel as laws and even liberty varies across the world. Those have always been there but the Internet just brings it closer. There’s also a matter of foreign languages that means if you’re not familiar with any outside of English, then there’s a proportion of the Internet that you’re also unlikely to see, let alone know where to look.

The Internet might look like a sentient monster but really it’s only a framework for a village structure with loads of people wandering in and out of it. I would hesitate in calling it a mega-city simply because it isn’t multi-layered like that. If you compare to a city, I doubt if you know more than a few people in and outside of work, whereas with a village, the number of people who you know or who know you is or can be far larger. It would be an interesting test to compare the number of people who know you in real life against those on the Internet and I suspect many of you will find similar comparisons, depending on how many groups you belong to. This even applies to personality types. Those who cyberbully, probably bully in some form in real life but have the advantage of being anonymous. Being somewhat anonymous on the Net probably helps the bashful and wallflowers find their own voices because in type everyone gets a chance to say something if they choose to. Personally, I think it would make sense to be only under one named identity on-line. Granted that everyone can talk on the Net, it does tend to make things rather too instant and rather impossible to retract something said or typed which you might get away with a simple sorry for running off at the mouth in real life.

That only identifies the Internet and not the real question is whether anything will ever replace it? Even Science Fiction hasn’t really caught up with that yet. The warnings from the first ‘Matrix’ film of everyone being linked and placed in a cyber-reality isn’t that likely to happen. Well, at least not world-wide. Even nation-wide would be a problem as there is still 60% of the world population not connected to the Net, although I do have to wonder at whether those statistics includes mobile phone Net access. Even under computer control, the odd person vanishing might be noted but whole towns wouldn’t. Even voluntary, people would question why they didn’t want to come out of any cyber-reality even if only to sleep, eat, drink and a loo visit. We’ve all heard stories of people playing computer games for extended periods without stopping having serious and often fatal problems. Would that happen in real life as well? Would we all be that resistant to normal body functions? Digital is just extending the problems of real life.

Granted people live in cyber-realities today for some of the time but I doubt if anyone would want to live in them continually for long. As much as I enjoy playing ‘Unreal Tournament’, I doubt if I would want to be in there for too long at a time. Even a complex reality would have its limits if you want to live in the real world as well. As cyber-realities tend to be created by other people then you’d be limited by their imagination. An AI created reality would still have to conform to some rule structures. What would there to be gained unless you have unlimited lives and something more exciting than normal living? The first one is the major reason why our own reality isn’t a cyber-reality. Heard of anyone coming back from the dead, say, in the last hundred years and relating that they’ve seen more than a tunnel of light? Not a trace of ‘Life On Mars’ or ‘Ashes To Ashes’. If someone had created and put us into a cyber-reality, then you would be given more than one life. Maybe I’m not that taken with cyber-realities but I do have a lot of things to do on a regular basis. I’m also not smitten by those mobile phone thingies come to that. I’m beginning to think that the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Rise Of The Cybermen’ (2006) might have had a point the way people sleepwalk while using them these days, observing not wishing to offend any of you who do, just in case you’re reading this on the move. Careful with that approaching lamp-post by the way.

Even so, if there are any changes to the Internet, it’ll be refinement not significant change. Things such as neural and optic implants would be seen as a distraction when you compare to how people use their mobile phones while driving. The Internet was developed in a haphazard fashion, so I expect that will stay the same, as long as there is an option to control whether you accept changes or not to your software. Giving an example here, unlike Windows 10 inauguration, there was no warning of the ‘anniversary’ changes, let alone if you wanted any or all of them. That’s not to say I was glad that they took my email address off of the opening page but it would have been nice to have been warned that it would have taken some 3 hours to complete.

The Internet is there to serve all people world-wide, where it can, and that reflects the various types that inhabit the Net. It should certainly not be owned by any single conglomerate or country. If anything, it’s better if it isn’t. Not that it shouldn’t be policed. About the nearest thing to a riot is when a website is getting too many hits at one go and then you can always try later, well, unless you’re buying tickets for an event. You would think that organisers would issue a number and time and get them to return later to pay for the tickets. It would certainly remove the tout element buying wholesale. Thought into reality can go a long way.

I think the biggest thing to remember is that although many people go on-line with the potential for big ideas that might make money, very few know for sure if it will or are prepared for when it does. No one teaches redundancy patterns for major success or failure or restrictions which probably explains why there is little difference between adult and minor access or proof of identity and true age on social websites.

In some respects, the definition of legality should be the same as the real world except the laws in different parts of the world varies a lot and you aren’t even aware of how some servers do their own level of censorship and not on the things you would expect them to do. Oddly, even the United Nations hasn’t fought to have some uniformity in the real world so how can that be achieved on the Net? Which is probably why I doubt if a new Internet would ever be developed. I mean, given the choice, would you want a new Internet or whatever name is chosen which started off with more than various governmental controls than we have at the moment?

But it does bring up an interesting question of would there be anything to supersede it? As I said above, at its heart, the Internet is a big community communicating village with a shopping arcade and various specialist meeting points that you could never hope to attend in real life without having to leave your living room. It has some grey areas, divided by language and nation which means some elements of segregation often controlled by servers but, unless you investigate, I doubt if you’d come across them and that’s aside from the Dark Net aspect that’s way below most people’s radar.

However, there is no place to go beyond that concept unless we all suddenly turned telepathic and didn’t need any sort of machinery to do such things. Even if that were possible, it would make digital shopping a bitch to do unless there was some sort of clearing station of list of contacts to look over to find who was selling what and ensure that they were listening let alone communicating. Any compromise that way would have to include a cross between the two which seems a bit improbable. If you thought the Internet was clogged now, think how noisy it would be if we were all telepathic and forever making notes. You would invent an Internet purely to get everything noted.

I think the real problem is less any massive changes in the Internet but in the intensity of the number of people using it. Be grateful that anything up to a third of the people who use the Net come off-line to sleep periodically. Even so, there should be separate channels for mobile phone users as this contributes heavily to over-clogging.

On a social scale, for a lot of people, real life is becoming secondary, let alone physical socialising. Now that is getting more ‘Matrix’ like. Real-life social skills can be handy and who’s going to be populating the next generation if we’re all on the Net and not caring? Do we really want to depend on the 60% non-Net users who are likely to be technophobes?

Although I’m not entirely convinced that the Internet would end the human race, there has to be a little concern that social interaction is going to drop off after a few generations. As pure geeks, we’re kind of used to the lonesome kind but this is something that even Science Fiction hasn’t really covered. People who put messaging over real life might be missing the point. Like any boom and bust, that could still change if socialising in real life caught on again.

The Internet might be a monster but it’s just about our monster where often commonsense tends to prevail in the long run. Finding something to supersede it is undoubtedly likely to be a surprise and, if successful, would happen very quickly. Look at how news spreads over our current system. I also think more people are vocal and savvy to raise concerns and enough will listen if something doesn’t feel right. No sense becoming slaves to the Cybermen after all.


Thank you, take care, good night and, occasionally, play around in the real world. It might be fun to be real. After all, it’s only a keyboard away.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.org.uk


A Zen thought: Language is the means to share terminology.


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Observation: An odd thing about the ‘Predators’ (2010) film. Considering the number of moons and planets in the sky, you have to wonder why it didn’t have more reflected light at night.


Odd Tip: I don’t know about you but I’ve been puzzling for a long time about how to remove the grunge that accumulated around the rim of my open laptop. The same spray you use to clean the monitor screen is just as effective on it at well. I’m hesitating on using it on the keys themselves simply because it might eventually rub the labels away but the rest looks almost like new now.


Things I Might Have To Think About: Have you noticed how murder victims in TV series always laid out in a way that an outline can be drawn around them? It’s almost like they fall in line.



One thought on “Editorial – October 2016: The future is here and now but never gone.

  • Hi there! You might care to have look at the first few of the new ‘South Park’ season (Season 20, I believe) when they become available in the UK, which has some comments about online ‘communication’ and real life


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