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The Internetless Life
April 30, 2007 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Stephen Elliott describes life without the internet.
posted by _sirmissalot_ (80 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
wow, sounds like every joyful weekend of my life. God, life without the internet: Whatever will be do? Use a paper and pen and do interviews? Get to know the local population? Masturbate from a magazine?
posted by parmanparman at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Without access to the Internet, I feel like I'm retarded.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


That was weird. Not having the internet means you can't carry a map to figure out where the party is at?
posted by jessamyn at 11:27 AM on April 30, 2007


Yeah, I wouldn't survive without the Internet. I even remember being alive and writing school papers and stuff before it was everywhere, but I don't know how I did it. ("The library" is an insufficient answer.)

He mentions people refusing to call when they can't email. I can never understand why people confuse these. They are totally dissimilar modes of communication! One is synchronous, the other asynchronous. It's a non-trivial difference.

If I want to tell/ask someone something but it isn't important I do it right away, I email. It saves me from interrupting them, among other things. What'm I supposed to do with this guy? Write a letter?
posted by DU at 11:31 AM on April 30, 2007


Life without the internet sounds about as fun to me as life without caffeine.

That is, so freaking miserable that I would spend every internet-less caffeine-less moment wondering when the nightmare would end.
posted by crackingdes at 11:32 AM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


His solution is frightening but true - divide the day into doing non-Internet things and if there is any free time left over use that for Internet. ie. The Internet is the reality which "real life" has to be consciously be worked into.
posted by stbalbach at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2007


Funny how “no internet” seems to mean “no computer” these days. We take if for granted, any time you feel like it you just open your browser and go wherever you want. I remember my days as a hardware tech, if you didn’t have access to the single HP LJ2 service manual in the shop you were screwed. And god help you if your IBM PS2 Model 80 reference disk didn’t have the right files for that token ring MCA card. I wont even get into those kids, always walking on my lawn…

I do 2+ weeks up in rural Quebec every summer without the internet. It’s awful. We have to do stuff like go out on a canoe, play board games, do puzzles, and sit on the porch drinking gin and tonics.

Somehow I survive. Never really seems worth writing an article about.
posted by bondcliff at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dude sounds kinda like a jerk. Like one-a them no-tv people.
posted by boo_radley at 11:40 AM on April 30, 2007


Dude sounds kinda like a jerk. Like one-a them no-tv people.

No TV except for those three seasons of The Wire that he watched.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stephen Elliot is no hero for going without access. Any journalist or writer (I am one) should have the good sense to compile all their contacts into a paper file for the moments when they won't be able to google for the right person.

And to boo_radley, I don't think this is a call to arms in any way. I think many more people would have a harder time going a week without chapstick than without internet access.
posted by parmanparman at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2007


Dude sounds kinda like a jerk.

To me, he didn't seem to think he was superior for not using the Internet, just that he wanted to do it as an experiment, and the result was that he found himself more productive.
posted by drezdn at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2007


People still use chapstick?
posted by watsondog at 11:46 AM on April 30, 2007


It's funny to read this because I just finished Elliott's very kinky (and sad, and sweet, and well written) My Girlfriend Comes to the City to Beat Me Up, which deals in different themes, to say the least.

Check out an interview with him.

I quit metafilter for a week a while ago and (literally!) read 3 books during that time.
posted by serazin at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2007


Oh, what's funny is, that one of the three books I read in that week was Stephen Elliott's.
posted by serazin at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2007


Clearly, quitting metafilter didn't make me more articulate.
posted by serazin at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2007


Dude talks like he went on a hunger strike or something.
posted by The Straightener at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not having the internet means you can't carry a map to figure out where the party is at?

I can't speak for Mr. Elliot, but I have mostly flipped over to thinking of a map as an online application that you feed start and stop addresses into. I read right through that passage with out having the same "duh" moment you did, though it's obvious now.

On the other hand, I'm better at reading paper maps now than I was before the advent of things like Mapquest and Google maps. I think it's because they helped me match up a set of written directions with a real map in a way I hadn't practically done before (never user AAA triptips or whatever they're called). I can tell pretty easily when the directions provided by an online app probably aren't the best route (for me, anyway).

I found this piece a bit odd in that he seems to jump into his "no internet for a month" challenge without explicitly talking about why he made that decision at the beginning. A stylistic choice, or is there an earlier piece that precedes this?

He also appears to have many irritating friends.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:49 AM on April 30, 2007


wow, sounds like every joyful weekend of my life. God, life without the internet: Whatever will be do?

I just spent five days away from Metafilter, catching up with old friends on the other coast. It was a little weird to me—I felt a little like I was dropping continuity, being away that long, missing some of the little memetic details that simmer along on this place. That I don't actually know how many times Jack Valenti died, exactly, is a bit disorienting.

But I recognize that five days without mefi being an odd circumstance—and I truly don't know how many times that's happened in the last two years—is itself probably strange to an disinterested observer.

That was weird. Not having the internet means you can't carry a map to figure out where the party is at?

Conditioning, I'd reckon. There are certain things that have become so automatically available to me that I don't even consider them until they're not—Tri-Met's navigation assistance, for instance—to the point that I have critical failures to plan little details because they seem to hover over my shoulder omnipresent, so natural is the instinct to look them up as needed and the ability to do so at a moment's notice.

(Where I work, there are three main buildings, and every once in a while I'll just wander off to a meeting without looking up what room it's in, or what floor, or even what building, and only realize this information isn't magically and automatically available sans a terminal when I've gotten halfway to where I think I'm maybe supposed to be going. These net augmentations seem a lot like that when they're not available.)

So I'm sure the guy could use a real paper map, and maybe it's just better for the writeup to gloss over that, but he might not have one, or think to look for it until he's already blithely off on his way. You get used to not needing to do that sort of on-the-fly work, because you just go to a website and lookup/print what you need before you leave the house.
posted by cortex at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2007


Metafilter many irritating friends
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:57 AM on April 30, 2007


:
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:57 AM on April 30, 2007


How old is Stephen Elliot? Is there some decent research that looks at this issue as it breaks down across age, because, speaking as a 44-year-old, I know I could go offline quite readily, having lived more than half of my life in a non-Internet world.

That's not to say that I have not become reliant on the Internet for many, many things. Nor is it to say that I don't spend and above-average amount of time online. But having grown up in a world where road maps and atlases were the only way to find locations, a world where the only phone you had was at home 100% of the time, a world where you needed to go to the library to look up almost anything, I don't see being offline as anywhere near insurmountable.
posted by briank at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2007


I wish I could quit the internet. I'd probably be a millioner by now.

I quit drinking alcohol 4 months ago, and stopped smoking cigarettes 3 months ago. I'm 26 years old, and live in las vegas, so you can understand why. The first 2 weeks were very hard. I actually wanted to only stop for a month, but after the 3rd week I decided I'll go for longer, and now I don't think I'm ever going to go back. I'm not comparing substance abuse to internet usage, but I do feel like i'm on the internet way too much, and not really doing anything at all.

and btw, i'm one of those no-tv people. I threw mine away when I was 19. I don't think I will ever have one. Only because I will admit, I'm the biggest TV junkie I know, and If i had one, i'd sit infront of it for 6-8 hours a day.
posted by Afreemind2007 at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2007


"The library" is an insufficient answer.

Er, why? That's how everyone did it.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2007


How very peculiar. Elliott writes:

When I ask people why they need to be online, they inevitably focus on the stream coming toward them—the information they receive passively from e-mail lists and messages from friends and associates that contain crucial information. But it turns out that you don't miss much being offline. If something important and newsworthy occurs, you can find out from the newspaper or The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Oddly, with a few minor changes, this passage reflects my own life quite accurately.

When I ask people why they need to [watch television], they inevitably focus on the stream coming toward them—the information they receive passively from [dramas] and [news programs] that contain crucial information. But it turns out that you don't miss much [not watching TV]. If something important and newsworthy occurs, you can find out from [Google] or [MetaFilter].

Two of a kind, I suppose.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:24 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was musing the other day about how it was to be a history major without the Internet -- trudging yet again to the library to get a basic grounding in stuff that wasn't related to my area of interest but I needed to understand at some level nonetheless. "Know something about everything and everything about something" -- the Internet's made the first clause of that aphorism somewhat easier.
posted by pax digita at 12:26 PM on April 30, 2007


"The library" is an insufficient answer.

That's how everyone did it.

And compared to what we have now, it was insufficient.

I'm probably at just the perfect age to think this way, though. Too old to never have known anything else, too young to have gotten habits the old way. Also, I hate asking librarians (or Home Depot employees, etc) for help finding stuff, so the difference is even bigger for me.

Seriously, if it weren't for the Internet I would be a much poorer person, in every sense of the word.
posted by DU at 12:29 PM on April 30, 2007


If we suddenly, permanently lose electricity, 2/3rds of the "developed" population will experience irrevocable brain lock.
posted by edgeways at 12:32 PM on April 30, 2007


A few years ago I was forced to use dial-up for a few months, and only got online once or twice a day because of it. I have to say it did feel...refreshing. Being a writer myself, and a rather undisciplined one, I agree that the internet is the worst thing that ever happened to my productivity. Though Elliott does sound a bit preachy.

This guy has more balls, anyway.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:33 PM on April 30, 2007


...they inevitably focus on the stream coming toward them...

"Inevitably"? Really? Because to me the best part of the Internet is having (a sizable fraction of) the world's knowledge at my fingertips. I want to build a balancing Lego robot. How do I do that? Google! Huh, I never heard of these here "PID controllers", that's cool. OK, so I need to know the angular velocity of a falling pendulum...what's the formula for that again? Google! Rinse and repeat.

(MeFi died as I was trying to post this. Thanks, God of Irony!)
posted by DU at 12:33 PM on April 30, 2007


Ordinarily I would be fully prepared to snark on this, but, thanks to !@#$%^& malware on my computer, I spent all yesterday without access to the internet, and I damn near went through withdrawals. I didn't realize how much time I spend in front of the damned box.
posted by lekvar at 12:34 PM on April 30, 2007


Am I alone in finding this "wow, there's a world outside of my computer screen!" and "I'm passively aware of addiction, I wonder if this is what it's like!" style of article kinda tired?

I don't watch a whole lot of TV, but I spent a lot of time playing video games as a child, teenager, college student pastime, and I think there's a slight difference between instantaneous access to the entirety of human knowledge and Mario Kart.

Furthermore, i tend to find the voluntary eschewing of a technological advancement or convenience for no other reason than many people don't use it effectively to be masturbatory and self-aggrandizing, without actually accomplishing anything.

"Did you ever notice how everyone wears SHOES? Look how soft and vulnerable our feet have become! We wrap all our floors in soft fabric, and gird our precious tootsies in all manner of leather strapped, steel-reinforced, urban assault units, lest we scuff a nail! Our ancestors would be ASHAMED, blah blah..."
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:35 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


When I went to click on this page, it initially refused to load, and I heard the violins from Psycho shrieking in my head as I hit the "Try again" button with increasing desperation. Then, finally, it came up. Ahhhh, that's the good stuff. Feed that cold blue light right into my veins, Doctor.

But it's not like I'm addicted or anything.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:42 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


The advice he gives seems unlikely to be of any use until you’ve already gone cold turkey; moderate your access, refuse to distract yourself when the work is going badly… it’s well and good for a man who’s broken the habit, but I don’t see it working for the rest of us. Sound eminently reasonable, but much, much too hard. Then, too, I seem to recall he’s some sort of masochist; didn’t he write My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up? Oh sure… discipline, of course a masochist would advocate discipline! :-) We don’t all love pain, man.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:43 PM on April 30, 2007


Uther: The problem with overuse of the internet isn't that it puts "the entirety of human knowledge" at our finger tips. It's that for some of us (myself included), it's a mental honeypot, that serves to make us feel like we're learning, when really we're just wasting time.
posted by drezdn at 12:44 PM on April 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


My family goes off into the woods for vacations often. One thing I do miss? The internet has done wonders for settling long standing family disputes.

Up at our cabin suddenly my brother feels emboldened to make outlandish claims. Some of that is the altitude and the tequila. Some of that is in the genes.

It used to be at Christmas at my parents, before they had an Internet connection, we would fight and fight and fight. And I would stew waiting to get the hundred miles home so I could then look up shit on the internet. "AH HAH! I knew I was right!"

The problem was - I was alone with the knowledge of my correctness. Which is fun. But only for a little while. And then your wife can only put up with you stomping around the house declaring how "right" you were. She will endure it for a few weeks before she starts mumbling about The Burning Bed and suing your mother for retro-active child abuse.

I would call my brother or sister or my mom and read from the Google listing or whatever - showing them I was right. But it never had the same effect. "Everybody knows the Interwebs is full of kooks!" My mom would say.

So I would sit and stew for another year or so. You get used to this when you're the youngest in your family.

Then my parents got an internet connection. MOTHER FUCKERS WOULD PAY. I spent an entire Christmas marching my family up to my dads new Mac going line by line over every bullshit claim they had made for the last 30 years. I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Merve Griffin was NOT in Count Yorga The Vampire. That it was Kristen Scott Thomas in the English Patient NOT Emma Thompson.

I now reign supreme. My family Junta rules with a mighty information age fist.

Petty? You think I am petty? HAH! I merely ask you to spend one weekend with the Christensen family. Or. As my wife calls them: The Nietzsche family - all Alpha no Beta.

It's survival of the fittest, my friend.

God bless you internets.
posted by tkchrist at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2007 [30 favorites]


tkchrist, that sounds like an average weekend at my house.
posted by lekvar at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2007


Holy crap, that wasn't Emma Thompson! Between that and Bill Macy not being in Happiness, my world is crumbling.
posted by cortex at 1:10 PM on April 30, 2007


tkchrist : Best. Post. Ever.
posted by drstein at 1:10 PM on April 30, 2007


The problem that I have with the internet has been summed up by a webcomic.

Three hours later and you have no idea why you're looking at this stuff, but you CAN'T STOP.

I have no problems giving it up for periods of time though. Just send a quick "I am dropping off the earth!" message to everyone I know and life's just peachy.

That is unless I *also* had to give up my cellphone. No dice there, even though half the time I can't find the fucker.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:11 PM on April 30, 2007


I, too, use the internets for bet-settling, primarily with a certain contrarian spouse. I also remember first learning how to use the Readers' Guide To Periodical Literature, the OED, and suchclike, and the untoward sense of power that gave me. So, if there were no internet, I would simply move to a county that still has libraries, and use one of them. But I would prefer to go on using the internet. *kisses internet affectionately*
posted by everichon at 1:15 PM on April 30, 2007


My parents used to have only a dial-up connection, and going home from college to visit them always brought with a sense of being incredibly isolated and bored, just because I couldn't look at the news 12 times a day while simultaneously playing flash games and downloading music.

On the other hand I can go days without the internet if I'm off work and I have something fun to do.

For me all these online diversions are just like television in smaller snippets - ways to amuse yourself when you are too tired or depessed to do any real activities.
posted by mai at 1:15 PM on April 30, 2007


Oh, and I went through a self-consciously Luddite phase at about the time this came out. I got over it. Although I did end up discovering the most excellent Gohn Brothers.
posted by everichon at 1:18 PM on April 30, 2007


Any of you smart folks know how I can explain to my five year why grandma doesn't have Linerider and and an endless supply if "+lego +train" pictures at her house?

My generation, the generation of teens today, and however many generations come between us know it as “the internet”, a technological marvel. My son seems to be of the generation that sees it as something that is, well, just there.

Sometimes I get envious of him, but then I thank god that all the dumb things I said and did as a teenager aren’t forever cached on Google. I’m glad I’m not known on SNL Weekend Update as “atomic wedgie you-tube kid.”
posted by bondcliff at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2007


And compared to what we have now, it was insufficient.

I hope you're not referring to this kind of nonsense:

instantaneous access to the entirety of human knowledge

Because what's available on the internet is a tiny, tiny fraction of "the entirety of human knowledge." And if you think that's an overstatement, you need to spend some serious time in a good research library, checking every once in a while to see how much of what you're finding is available on the internet. I think you'll find you've been blinded by the superabundance of information on obscure TV shows and comix. No serious research could be done using the internet alone.
posted by languagehat at 1:39 PM on April 30, 2007 [10 favorites]


Holy crap, that wasn't Emma Thompson! Between that and Bill Macy not being in Happiness, my world is crumbling.

I must rock your world even more. Members of my family (my brother, grandmother, and or mother) have at one time or another claimed that:

Ted Kennedy had gay sex with Jim Neighbors and that they were married in a secret voodoo ceremony on Maui.

The Battle of Hastings ended in a draw.

Tom Selleck really was a cowboy in real life.

Trueman Capote paid to have "conjugal" visits with death row inmates.

The Roman Empire fell because it went too gay.

All fish eggs are "caviar."
posted by tkchrist at 1:41 PM on April 30, 2007


I'm getting tired of favoriting you all the time tk. Quit being so funny dammit!

If you persist, and I get carpal tunnel from clicking that goddamned plus sign, I'm sending the doctor bills to you my friend. Just so you know.
posted by vronsky at 1:46 PM on April 30, 2007


I guess this guy doesn't have a fucking job.

Stephen Elliott is the author of six books...

Ah.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2007


Web, schmeb!
I'm sending this with my Fabulous Mental Power-Beam!
posted by Dizzy at 1:53 PM on April 30, 2007


It's very simple: get a crappy fly-by-night ISP. You'll appreciate those moments of good internet access more, and be well versed in what to do when you can't connect to anything.
posted by Foosnark at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2007


Tkchrist - but can't the internet also be used to support all those claims?
posted by Elmore at 1:59 PM on April 30, 2007


For example: Tom Selleck
posted by Elmore at 2:02 PM on April 30, 2007


I dunno, everything I've ever read about effective time management for personal productivity includes something about carefully limiting your communication bandwidth, even way back pre-Internet; set a specific hour of each day to open, read and respond to mail, as well as specific times to return phone calls.

I do a lot better when I actually stick to a schedule like that, and stay the hell off IM and Mefi... ;)
posted by zoogleplex at 2:19 PM on April 30, 2007


"Everybody knows the Interwebs is full of kooks!" My mom would say.

God bless your mother.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2007


But of all of my various adventures, people have been most curious about my recent decision to go offline for a month.

I'd be interested to know which people. Anyhow, loads of people have done this, written it up and, by and large, reached the same startlingly mundane conclusions. Do you really need a month to work out that doing lots of things at once is distracting? Or that people can wait four hours to hear back from you? The author may be an novelist (and a good one for all I know) but the point of this piece - other than restating the blindingly obvious - is beyond me.
posted by rhymer at 2:44 PM on April 30, 2007


For example: Tom Selleck

Right, it's not just the availability of sources that allows such disputes, rather than basic differences in epistemology.

I once had an argument about the origin of a word with someone who had an urban legendy belief of the word's origin (cf. Fuck = "fornication under command of king", etc). I presented the accurate etymology from the Oxford dictionary, but since he didn't understand how to evaluate sources and information to begin with, this meant precisely as much as any assertion to him.

So people that generally follow bad ideas aren't going to be "put in their place" simply because I can click on a website that repeats my claim. You think the wide availability of information has decreased, say, creationist beliefs in the last 10 years? If anything the even wider availability of misinformation has made it even harder to "win" arguments with these types of people.
posted by dgaicun at 2:46 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't use the internet at all ya losers.
posted by The Deej at 3:09 PM on April 30, 2007


“I could feel my attention span lengthening. I would think about problems until I figured them out.”

Yeah, what an asshole.
*sarcasm*

Still, the net to me is mostly for the in-betweens when I’m not ‘working.’
Short term entertainment. Although it is fantastically useful when I actually ‘use’ it. I’ve read a lot of stuff online (proj. gutenburg, et.al - great stuff).
But hell, anything can be abused. And indeed, anyone can tell other folks they’re abusing something whether they are or not.
People used to tell me I read too much. (bookish) Or I was working out too much (don’t want to get musclebound).
Yeah, thanks there armchair.

Just all depends on what your goals are. If your goals aren’t aligned with a lot of internet use - well, then.
And indeed, if you’re abusing the internet, not using it to enhance your productivity, then use it to enhance your productivity instead. Chances are there are just a few sites you’re hooked into blowing your thing rather than “THE INTERNET” which is, really, an entirely different thing in terms of scale. Just need a little self-monitoring and self-control.

Pretty obvious stuff really.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2007


Tkchrist - but can't the internet also be used to support all those claims?

True. The kooks have caught up with us. However my family, if they are anything, they are scientific in their outrageous beliefs and can be assuaged with some logic and a torrent of cites.

I have to share one more thing. And this is love letter from my mother to YOU dear Metafilter.

Last Christmas we had the immediate family all together and I had hit Critical Mass by day two. I had a tone of work pending and was feeling anxious so I retreated to my dads Mac to check my emails. While I was there I took a minute to check Metafilter.

My wife comes to the back bedroom/office where my dad keeps his Mac to bring me a cocktail (best wife EVAR). And She sees the Blue.

"TODD! Your here with your family! You can't chat on MeFi. Do your family duty and go get drunk with those lunatics in the living room."

Then my mom yells back "What's he doing back there Wendy!" (There is a lot of yelling in my family. We don't actual GO to where anybody is. We stay put and YELL our conversations.)

My wife yells back "He's chatting on the internet!"

Oh. God. So my mom storms back there. She is drying her hands on a dish towel and scowling.

"Honey! You know there are all those perverts and pedophiles on that internet! You better be careful! You'll get kidnapped!"

My wife and I stare at each other for a moment. I am Forty Three Years Old.

In my wifes mind this one statement of my mothers explains a great deal. I can see this in her amused, cynical, expression.

"Yes Honey. You might get abducted by a pedophile." My wife says.

"That's right!" Says my mom. "Now turn off that (she stoops and squints to read the monitor) ... that... "MEAT-Flater" (I kid you not) and go talk to your brother. He wants you to try and choke him or something."
posted by tkchrist at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2007 [36 favorites]


I dunno. Flates my meat.
posted by everichon at 3:16 PM on April 30, 2007


Sounds like a mighty fine idea for me.
+++
ATH0
echo \13

NO CARRIER

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:20 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


tkchrist's mom wins teh internets!

Seriously, I damn-near choked with laughter reading that, tkchrist.
posted by lekvar at 3:20 PM on April 30, 2007


Things like this make me think of Steve Mann, who lived with computer mediated reality for years, and then had his computers removed going through an airport after 9/11 and became all sorts of disoriented.

There are levels of technological integration and information saturation beyond just being on the internet. They're not very common yet, but they exist.
posted by Arturus at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2007


Oh. God. Soooo...favorited!!
posted by pax digita at 3:25 PM on April 30, 2007


MeatFlater: perverts and pedophiles
posted by dgaicun at 3:26 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Languagehat's got it in one: Googling something and knowing something are two very different things.

And, the fuck: you can't find a party without Mapquest? These people have no phone?
posted by rocheste at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2007


I should've lived without the internets today, methinks.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:21 PM on April 30, 2007


languagehat has a point, the public internet is fairly limited for serious research but for general knowledge it beats any library; but the one thing I miss most about college is database access.

Seriously.

Remote access to basically every major journal in every field, mostly full-text and the majority containing at least the last 20 years of articles, some stretching back a century. I find life without Lexis, the OED, Jstor, and so on and so forth back unto the presocratic fragments of human thought -- all at my beck and call, crippling. I don't know how anyone did research before the advent of searchable full text databases. I consider this a part of the internet -- though not free and open -- a part that was amputated against my will.
posted by Grod at 4:33 PM on April 30, 2007


"Things like this make me think of Steve Mann, who lived with computer mediated reality for years, and then had his computers removed going through an airport after 9/11 and became all sorts of disoriented."

A-HA!!! So that's where it came from! Fess up, Cory!!!

(there's one tkchrist's mom won't get)
posted by zoogleplex at 4:48 PM on April 30, 2007


I'm a compulsive reader. If I see anything with writing on it, I will read it. I've read so many shampoo labels, toilet paper packages, and cereal boxes - I know them by heart. Once the internet came along - I was doomed. I haven't had internet at my apartment for a month now (my neighbor quit sharing it with me - long story) and I haven't turned my computer on since it went away.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:51 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm considering going 56k. Will save some money and hopefully make me more productive. Aside from games and movies it should be adequate.
posted by parallax7d at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2007


Then my parents got an internet connection. MOTHER FUCKERS WOULD PAY. I spent an entire Christmas marching my family up to my dads new Mac going line by line over every bullshit claim they had made for the last 30 years. I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Merve Griffin was NOT in Count Yorga The Vampire. That it was Kristen Scott Thomas in the English Patient NOT Emma Thompson.

This is the most succinct expanation of Why I Became a Librarian that I have read from someone other than me. That and reading The Abortion.
posted by jessamyn at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2007


For the folks like Grod and languagehat who like being able to do real research, you can always become members of the New York Public Library. This costs $100/year for non-residents.

You'll get access to these Databases.

The first link also suggests getting a San Francisco Public Library card for access to JSTOR Journals (for California residents).
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:13 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I must be a freak. I find myself more productive when I have the Internet available while I'm writing. I have enough discipline to type away for a while, but I find a quick browsing of metafilter and my other favorite sites a refresher. It allows me to go longer without losing my creative energy.
posted by clockworkjoe at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2007


oh it's good fun being away from the internet for a while - no problem at all - you get loads done.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:55 PM on April 30, 2007


What a quaint understanding of human creation of and interaction with information. I feel a little bit sorry for him.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:22 PM on April 30, 2007


....you can always become members of the New York Public Library.

That list misses most of what makes a research library awesome (forgetting the books.) To do my job, I need access to, at least, Lexis-Nexis (Legal edition, not that wimpy Academic version), OED Online, JSTOR and Project MUSE, the Philosopher's Index, and Past Masters. Plus, my university has like a dozen random databases that come up when I'm searching for journal articles that contain full text for all the random journals and years not yet covered by the biggies. Not to mention the fact that my department shares a dedicated research librarian with a couple other departments; this is a guy whose job is to look shit up for me and my colleagues, in addition to being a regular librarian. I'm not talking about an undergraduate helper; this is a trained professional, he speaks five languages and can read several more. He always assures me he has the coolest job in the world, and I believe him.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:55 PM on April 30, 2007


Every week I have a No Internet Day. Sometimes, I even have two. No email, no web, no voicemail even. A day out in nature, unencumbered by technology.

If I ever miss that weekend day, then the following week starts less happily than the other Mondays.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:15 PM on April 30, 2007


tkchrist: Your mum and my mum seem to have been created in the same press. Possibly a meat press. But I still can't use the tubes to convice her that my sister's cabbage patch doll won't be replaced by a death certificate if it's sent in for repairs.

Is there some decent research that looks at this issue as it breaks down across age, because, speaking as a 44-year-old, I know I could go offline quite readily, having lived more than half of my life in a non-Internet world.

I was 14 when the internet really broke, and was neck deep in in from the word go. I still prefer to look things up in a book if I can, because if there's anything that 11 years on the tubes has taught me, it's that there's a lot of crap out there. Some of my earliest lessons in "researching on the Internet" focused on finding reliable info to begin with, and to this day I cannot truly trust the info out there. The diamonds are hidden in with corporate disinformation, fannish claptrap, conspiracy theory and the echo of many, many empty vessles spouting the same shit that they read on someone else's poorly researched Geocity page.

The internet is not the sum of human knowledge, it's the sum of human thought, and human beings dream up some stupid, stupid stuff. Valuable information is so very hard to find, and I still find books to be far more reliable. A trustworthy publisher is only going to release something that has clearly been well thought out and accurate because their name is on it too. Any jerk can diddle with a Wikipedia page.

I think perhaps that discernment is the hallmark of my generation online, at least. We're a cynical bunch.

I have been offline for large chunks of time. I even went without a PC for six months last year. I spent most of that time reading, painting and socialising. And I got by just fine, and appreciate it all the more now that I have the net back again.
posted by Jilder at 9:53 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


anotherpanacea: I have friends who have applied for grad school (UW) in library science. From what i've heard, all of them got rejected (and these aren't dumb people). It has become the new hip job for english majors and research geeks. Also because there is so much information at ones finger tips (and now collectable) many companies are hiring internal archivists to manage their files. Especially lawfirms, so its not always college jobs either.

Of course I just wound up with a BA in Anthro from college, so if I can't find it soon enough, I just make something up and then go drinking, or easier, go drinking and then make something up.

Also, MeatFlater: perverts and pedophiles sounds like a metaiband cover / spoof of a Decemberists album.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:32 PM on April 30, 2007


Related thoughts from our own wigu in today's Overcompensating.
posted by cortex at 7:00 AM on May 1, 2007


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