It’s too late, Web 2.0 is already up and running and nobody can figure out how to shut this puppy off – not even the Germans. Okay, it may have been a rather lengthy boot process since that abrupt restart back in the winter of 2001 (ouch), but today there are over 40 million Germans online, Tendenz steigend (and they keep on coming), and this time it is a mass phenomenon that has clearly gotten under everybody’s skin. I meant that figuratively, of course. But who knows? Maybe next year they’ll start implanting our online connections sonst wohin (who knows where).

And the Germans, of all people, should have known better, too. Being a Kulturvolk and “technology hostile” and all that, I mean. How much further can we (as in you) sink, people? Don’t you see that our current dominant cultural technology is going to be the end of life as we know it (don’t say hallelujah just yet)? There is no way that the benefits (and we are just beginning to understand what they will be) can possibly outweigh that dreaded danger of “slipping away out of real life” (ein Entgleiten des realen Lebens), right? Wrong. And I hate to break it to you (not), but as I said, you should have known better: The better part of our cultural history has been based upon ignoring this very warning.

Think Socrates. He warned folks in Plato’s Phaedrus of the grave danger to human memory by telling the story of a god who offers an Egyptian king the miraculous aid of writing. Socrates warned that writing would replace memory and argued that “the truth that lives in the human soul will be dissolved in its translation into ambiguous inscription.” Of course we only know about all of this because Plato wrote it down. That’s the punch line, get it?

And mankind can be thankful that there has never been a shortage of new technologies out there which have enabled us to slip away from this so-called real life of ours from time to time: The printing press (a despicable German invention), books, newspapers, telephones, film, radio and television. And let’s face it, other than television, all these old new fangled technologies have somehow lost their sting. Or are any of you out there still seriously concerned about the threat reading a newspaper at your friendly neighbourhood Starbucks poses to ”civilized and cultured” conversation? I didn’t think so.

So stand up straight and feel good about yourself feeling good about you embracing your computer like that. Just stop whispering to it like that when nobody’s looking, okay? It can’t understand you – yet. You know; I’m okay, you’re okay, your DSL flat rate is okay and it is certainly okay for you to slip away out of real life as often as you want to (you are doing so now). By the way, we call that place the virtual world these days. So come out the closet already, in other words. And stop heuling around like that. How pitiful.

But I must admit, all my optimism about this brave new world we now find ourselves in aside (and just between you and me), I’m going to wait for Web 2.1 to come out before I get down to business. These .0 versions are always real dogs and buggy as hell.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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