December 5, 1997

The Internet

Six months ago, I didn't know what the internet was, and now I am a part of it.

When I first heard about the internet, I thought that it was the usual hype and that people were trying to sell a product, or products. I was wrong. I am now converted, and consider the invention and use of the internet as the greatest thing to happen to civilization since the invention of the printing press. What has changed my mind?

Consider what a writer had to do to get his stuff to readers in the days Before Internet. First he had to write it. It had to be a certain length in order to please the editor of the newspaper, or the book publisher. After that, the editor had to want it. What made him want it? What influenced him was that the people who might buy his paper would want to read it. Better still; people would buy his paper because J.W.Storywriter had a column or wrote articles for said paper.

The internet is the ultimate in democracy. A person doesn't have to be rich or influential to have a web site. True, this makes for a lot of crap on the worldwide web(www); but there is a lot of crap in books, newspapers, radio or television. People love crap. They wolf it down like candy.

I live on a mountaintop. The closest town is Laytonville. If I need some information out of a first rate reference library, I would have to travel to the San Francisco Bay Area, some 4 or 5 hours away. Now, thanks to the web, I can peruse the index of the major medical and science journals, as well as abstracts of most articles. I have free access to The National Library of Medicine, one of the biggest and best in the world.

If I want to buy a book, or check reviews of it, I have only to go to Amazon Books' web site and look into their computerized catalogue which contains virtually every book that has been in print for at least the past 20 years. They can obtain books that are out of print. To get a book from them, I have only to click my mouse and they will ask for my credit card number(on a secured line which keeps my credit card number from falling into the hands of computer criminals). They will then tell me approximately when my book will be shipped. I will then receive an e-mail confirming the whole business. Other than actually packaging the book, everything is done by computer. In short, I have access to a book store that is the best in the world, without leaving my home. Their prices are lower for non-sale books than most other bookstores. I could have saved $30 on a book on how to write for the internet, had I known about it.

If I want to look up something that Shakespeare wrote, I go to the Internet Public Library(IPL). It's all there; his complete works. They also have extensive information on all U.S. presidents.

Of course, there is a down side to it all. There have been times when I have been frustrated almost to tears by things that have happened; such as having 20 hours of work wiped out when installing a new Microsoft Word program. But once I learned how to do it all, it got to be easy. Besides, I now back up all of my work on a Zip drive, so that nothing can be iretrievably lost, unless my house burns down.Besides, my internet files are also stored in Mendocino Community Network's(MCN) computer.

The language of the computer and internet is a new one to most people. . However, it is a lot easier to learn than French or German. Considering the number of people who are now cluttering the internet, almost anyone can learn to do it. It does take some time and effort, but so does doing just about everything, except sleeping.

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