Red Eyes on the Superhighway

22Feb07

m1_motorway.jpg

Once upon a time, when computers started communicating – and infecting – one another over a network we likened it to a spider’s web – a World Wide Web. What a brilliant metaphor it was!

BBC TV News was once classy (I’m guessing Michael Burke would already have been in post-Biblical tragedy era). They would mention the latest innovations in technology, referring to the Internet as ‘the so-called information superhighway’ and we would all fantasise about sparks and flashes racing through fibre-optic cables. Rather like doing eighty-five on the M1.

At about three am yesterday morning I was not so much emulating a pulse along a digital pipe, as nervously tip-toeing down the slow lane doing about sixty-five. Honest, officer.

I’m losing coolant fluid from somewhere in my rusty SAAB which has just passed a loyal but legal 135,000 miles and coming to an overheated halt at that time, and in heavy spray, wasn’t half as enticing as a soft pillow at home. (I eventually managed that destination a little past five. But as an addendum to We’re Locked In where I mention a furry visitor that left pellets in our kitchen, I was woken only two hours later by two very excited children who had caught our resident rodent on a sticky pad, its exhausted little body apparently gone into cardiogenic shock on the gluey surface).

But never mind what we’re already calling the second version of the Web. We ought to be thinking up clever new nouns now for the Internet – not a simple Two-point-Oh which already seems a bit passé and not really stretching creative earthlings’ brains.

I want to know who claims the honour of realising the name Cyberspace, or the Net; the Web; the infobahn; the Info Strada or the bloody Superinformationsuperbloodyhighway? When we next dream up the future for the Web, as a sign of respect to shrinking cultures I think we should be delving into their ancient languages that somehow get right to the point. What would the Mud Men of Papua New Guinea (PNG) use in Pidgin English for example?

Well to offer some clues, some of my favourite entries in their dictionary are:

Ples bilong klaut (the sky); Man bilong bikmaus (a loudmouth); Bokis wailis wantem piksa (TV); Tok baksait (to gossip); Toksave (information).

I can’t imagine broadband hasn’t yet reached the foothills of remotest Mount Hagen, so let’s hazard a guess at “taipraita akselareta skulim fella” but I’d be delighted to be proved wrong if anyone can offer a true alternative. It doesn’t have quite the same arachnid tangle about it but it would probably explain the idea to their tribal drummers, in a Tim Berners-Lee kind of way.

Aren’t we all just out there in the forest, beating on tree trunks to get our message across the valley? For now I’m afraid, the M1s of Cyberspace and the new Web 2.0 – will have to do.

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6 Responses to “Red Eyes on the Superhighway”

  1. Interesting, but why Blake?

  2. Why Blake. Well firstly see First Post. But also, watching the Promenade Concerts at the Albert Hall every year on TV brings back – maybe not Arrows of Desire – but a sense of what makes us/me British. It’s one of those questions I’ve asking myself and Blake has been there to confuse me even more.

    That’s probably not the answer you were looking for.

  3. Sigh, the closest I seem to come to anglo-centric is a premier league football yobbo, but I like your work.

  4. Well thanks Western. Any time you need some tastes of home just write ..

  5. The information super highway is called so because it takes after our own highways/motorways…it is clogged with junk, potholes in form of sites you wish weren’t there and spam after the amount of road signs you sit and read and re-read doing a measly 2 miles and hour…note that I do find the road signs more entertaining than the spam…

  6. Indeed, our roads are as hypnotic to boy-racers doing 100mph in fog as they are polluted with middle-aged drivers hogging the middle-lane.

    I hope you’re neither middle-aged nor a middle-of-the-road music-lover SLB. Anyone who likes Mariah Carey needs to be strapped to the back of an artic.

    There’s middle-lane waffle for you!


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