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Nothing But Net - For Five Days 193

Devastator writes "A reporter for the Toronto Star spent five days online. This article gives us a glimpse of how the Internet is still not a replacement for real life human contact. " Interesting story but a little too much information.
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Nothing But Net - For Five Days

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  • Really, I don't see what there is to learn from this that we don't already know. That living in isolation is bad for ones mental health? That if you don't shower for a few days, you'll start to smell? That it's easy to wander into a gay chat room?
  • I like the article. While it doesn't exactly report anything unexpected, there are a few gems in there...

    "There is some good news. My shampoo and remarkably small stick of $14 deodorant just arrived by courier. By now, I'm not that interested in having a shower and I've grown to like my odour. It's kind of fruity."

    By the way, the German weekly SPIEGEL magazine did a similar experiment where one of their authors spent a week trying to use the new German Pay TV network.

  • by acarey ( 34175 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @02:52PM (#1511790)
    ... not that I'm saying that's not important.

    But it seems to me that the major long-term problem associated with cutting oneself off from the "real" :) world is to do with socialising.

    Sure, there are on-line communities, but currently these are limited as per the contrainsts of the web itself: limited rich content, low bandwidth, audio and visual information only.

    Why is it harder to carry out a conversation via email than it is face to face? (Aside from the extra time taken in typing, of course :) Because human beings typically only exchange about 20-30% of the information in a conversation via the spoken word. The rest is the _way_ the words are spoken (pitch, rhythm [sp?]), the body language, nuances, other senses.

    Email and other web-based communication techniques that rely on the written word rather than the spoken word can only communicate a minority of the contextual information that a human being typically expects to receive during a conversation. For work or academic related stuff where specifications are clear this may be fine, but for a social conversation email and the like aren't there yet.

    Until the web (or its offspring) can transmit non-written conservation like language pitch and context, and body language - "rich conversation" - I don't think it's going to feasible to cut oneself off entirely from the outside world.
  • Goshdarn browser. I wasn't finished.
    Anyway, also, I remember reading an article on someone doing something similar a few years back. He spent a week in a hotel room, with a 'net connected laptop, and use of the phone. Pretty much the same results.
  • by chandoni ( 28843 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @02:53PM (#1511792) Homepage
    This guy's mistake was trying to lead a normal life online. Corned beef sandwiches and beer? A daily newspaper? But if you're interested in the kind of culture that you can only find online (Q3 tournaments, slashdot, even day trading) then you could easily spend days on the net. Many guys I knew in college spent 5 semesters constantly being online, not just a mere 5 days.


  • I hate the fact that most access seems to be beyond the range of my 2400bps modem. What a crap. At any rate I believe that most people who are technically inclined could (in the future of course) be able to become partly cyborgenetic and give up the need to actually not be connected to the net. I remember an episode of "The Outer Limits" where all of humanity had their brains connected up to a computer network. Very cool. I think that this guy is just whiny.
  • by Keefesis ( 70341 ) <leprechaunpancho ... m ['yah' in gap]> on Monday November 22, 1999 @02:53PM (#1511795)
    Some people have way too much free time :)
    A year ago, I would have said it would be a paradise world if we could do exactly this, but now, even without reading the article, I can tell it would suck. I actually enjoy exercise, and I really feel crummy when I don't get my daily 3 mile run in. I don't run to stay in shape, I run because I feel that I need to do something other than sit infront of the computer 24/7. I actually feel guilty if I spend all day on the computer. I usuall spend about 5 hours a day online, but I do other things also, though, it is rarely homework. One thing I have noticed is that the internet is cutting into my homework time. My grades are staying pretty much the same, but I am doing less homework and spending more time reading /. and playing Half-Life and chatting with friends.
    Well, that's a glimpse in to my pathetic little world, and I hope noone I know in person reads this :D~
  • ... and even then, would you really want to?
  • I must say that I've always wondered what would possibly happen if someone actually tried to do everything online. Personally, though, I wouldn't try to do it unless I had a buddy I could e-mail who would go run and do my shopping for me. I'd rather pay him $20 for his time than to pay $14 for deodorant, and eat sandwiches with Life cereal.

    Although, I bet there are times when we've been so busy that life will become someone like this. I can remember many a day stuck in front of the computer all day, getting up only to use the bathroom and to call Domino's for my dinner. Good thing I had everything else I needed at home! =)

    This goes out to all the wonderful Internet addicts out there - you're not alone! There ARE people more addicted than YOU! =)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 1999 @02:55PM (#1511799)
    It *does* replace human contact. I haven't left my room for days and I'm OK. The voices are quieter now, and only talk in perl....

    -Dave Turner, AC of convinience
  • That was funny. Honestly too, I giggled my way through. Maybe the concept of Web Development isn't as 'buzzwordy' as everyone makes it out to be. I'd like to know that the Internet is just as useful as a phone, but a shame it isn't.
  • Exactly. If I'd known this is all one needs to do to get "published" as a journalist I'd've just submitted any diary week from the last year-and-a-half.

    He seems to miss the fact that one doesn't suddenly transit to pure-'net from "regular life". One gradually sinks into it. There are no sudden food/deodorant emergencies. That's what housemates/roommates are for. Wire the house up and get cable/DSL so they get addicted to the technology. Wiggle the wires at the router when food starts getting low and when they look to you to fix it, convince them to go to the grocery while you slave over the logs. "Get some sun! It's a wonderful day out. Here, I'll also write up a shopping list/budgeting tool on our intranet web server." Go to freshmeat. etc.

  • Someone hasn't been paying attention. The article says that this is where we're going, according to all the studies. However, I think it's going to be a long time before we start doing daily shopping online.... I am more or less constantly online, but when I need food, I still go to the shop. And I don't see that changing soon.
  • by DiningPhilosopher ( 17036 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:00PM (#1511804)
    This guy claims he's performing an experiment to find out what life in the connected future might be like. While it's a mildly entertaining story, the experiment is very flawed.

    Come on - he laments the fact that he can't stand around the office water cooler? Is it obvious only to me that if everyone were out of the office they'd gather for meaningless conversation in some other forum?

    He also complains about the inconvenience and expense of ordering items like food and hygiene products. Of course the items are hard to find and expensive - nobody shops for these things online yet. Once there's a market the vendors will come to it.

    What he's actually writing about is how difficult it is to live with only an internet connection today, when everybody else is working in offices and shopping in grocery stores. Gee, thanks.
  • It's the annoying physical factor. I don't think it's pathetic but I do wish I could do more of the interesting things. Such as run a real server or run a place like slashdot. I never have been given responsibility. Mostly I think that civilization prevents the most able people from being able to impliment the best ideas. Excercise? well if you live in a major metropolitan area you tend to get a big lung full of smog when you take a deep breath so maybe if you live in Los Angles, New York City or maybe Boston you could be limiting your lifetime of your lungs. Another problem is that humans are able to do only so much. Training levels for people in the ancient days were more severe than now. I recall that the Spartans were able to run 20 miles per day in their daily treks for their warriors. I have not seen any correlation between that and a high level of health. Besides it is a lot better to die at 60 of a heart attack than to live to 65 go senile or get Alteizmers(sp) disease and cause the brain to go.
  • ...we're going, according to all the studies.

    Well, where we're going, according to the people who want to sell it to us.

    Whether it is actually "where we're going" depends on what people actually want. If people don't actually want it, it will go the way of "pointcast". Technologies in search of users.

    I have no doubt that people will do all kinds of amazing stuff online in the future. I also have no doubt that anyone other than an utter recluse will use it for everything.

    When I got to work at home, and thus never really had to leave the house during the day, I was in paradise. However, I also found myself running to the store for lunch, for no other reason then to get a little human contact.
  • Although most of this article was pretty expected, when the author mentioned the mental division between home life and work life he brought to mind something I've noticed in myself lately. In college I pretty much geeked around non-stop. There were some nice breaks in the day where I'd have non-geek related classes between the usual programming/reading cs stuff activities. Programming till 2 in the morning after a day of non-cs related work didn't seem like so bad an idea. Now that I do 8-10 hours of programming at work every day, I want no mentally taxing contact with computers when I get home. Occasionally a video game or two, but beyond that it's dinner, TV or book, and relaxation. Is this just me, or has this happened to other people, too?
  • Actually, I can see setting up a regularly delivery of staples (I assume that a service with plenty of advance notice will be able to fulfil orders completely!) - and reserving the trips to the grocery store/deli when the "I've gotta have something different!" urge strikes...
  • > He forgot to bathe? Give me a break.

    He did not forget, he simply did not need to. That's the point. If you spend your day at home, with no other persons to meet, you don't have to do the usual hoopla.

    I can quite relate to that, in a sense. I once spent a few weeks translating a CD ROM and rarely got out or had time to do anything because of a tight schedule (it was a doomed project and it was a dumb project, but nevertheless...)

    Boy, did my appartment start to get messy. And I myself started being messy too. All day at the computer, still wearing the pyjama.

  • I have never seen fit nor had need to connect to irc servers, nntp systems, icq, aim, or jabber. These things require IP addresses to be able to access and generally are not enabled in the browser at all. If you use lab machines/dial-up terminals/ kiosks/ integrated browsers/ or non-net connected computers then this presents a problem. As far as e-mail is concerned the medium has a great deal of flaws. One of them is the continual use of various "security" features on all except the most elite account features. Take hotmail cookies, https? Is this really necessary. Does anyone care about grandman sending recipies to her friends? About billy talking to his friends? Most people never check e-mail accounts because of pure sloth. Nntp is almost useless unless you have a very high end setup. Ever noticed that for being the system of the future that almost no group allows for easy simple text based, non cookie enabled access to nntp? Being forced to subscribe to a particular server, having to posess a client that is usually not installed (try IE 4.0) and such. Yes it is possible but not very fault tolerant. Why this useless protocol was invented I have no idea. SMTP is far superior to anything ever developed. In it's pure form it is a thing of beauty.
  • You can't expect someone to live only off the Internet. That's not how life was meant to be. People were designed for casual personal contact with one another; that's why we have vocal chords. Spending the day locked in and restricting your talking to typing is just plain stupid. You can't reasonably expect to survive that way. Sure, it's possible that you can fufill your physical needs, but your social needs are far from there. There is nothing like standing near somebody and talking through the air with plain old sound waves. Sure, I surf a lot, but I have real-life friends, too. I think one of the focuses of this article was exactly what I just said -- that it's a stupid idea.

    As for restricting yourself from the telephone, there are Internet telephone products that can call regular phones, provided you have a sound card and a decent speed connection. But still, why restrict yourself? If you wanted to simulate conducting your entire life at home, the telephone is an important element. This "study" could have been more useful as an analysis of telecommuting, where the telephone is an important element (I said that before, didn't I?).

    Final point: Isn't such a thing horrible for your physical health as well? He didn't say anything about exercising. His muscles must have been practically gone by the end of the week. Get out and run/jog/bike/walk/hike/rock-climb/etc. a little. There is no shortage of options. If you're really bored, go travel somewhere and do something there. But don't just stay in your house!

    I wish I could watch video in real-time over my net connection. Forgive those with 38.4's (maximum, that is).

    This article isn't lame (not LAME either). It's an important message (although not directly spoken within it) that we have too many people spending too much time on the web.

    If I met this guy during his week, I'd tell him to get a life, and a couple extra to spare in case he lost that one.

    Tell me if you disagree. (Or is asking you for that stupid? Be mature, folks!)


  • by .pentai. ( 37595 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:13PM (#1511813) Homepage
    ...that people that spend a lot of time on the net DON'T cut off everything else. Even in the future, we will still use phones, or atleast voice chat over the net. People who spend the majority of their time on the net don't stop their lives. I still pick up a phone, and go to the store, because those things aren't easier online (as of yet). News and such are, so why buy what I can get free?

    An interesting idea, but hire someone right for the job to do the test.
  • Apparently this guy is just not creative or technically-minded enough to pull this off. I use the net to make about 3/4 of my phone calls (net to normal phone via a gateway provider is mucho cheaper than normal long distance). A camera could have provided him with video. If he had thought to order his groceries via the net a few days before he started, they would have been fair game. The minor troubles he experienced were only "getting started" delays. Once he has some food in stock, I'll bet he could go for quite a while.

    He gets some points for finding a deli that takes internet orders, though...
  • I'd call that normal, it could probably even be called healthy.

    I spend additional time at my home PC only if I have an interesting private, not work- or university-related programming challenge to hack on.

    Anyway, I find that most geeks I know do use computers A LOT, but they know and they all say that they need other hobbies to compensate. I myself would go mad if *everything* I did was about computers.

    Luckily, I have my a cappella music [hanno.de] which helps me stay sane.

    BTW, some time ago when I did *only* music for a few weeks (my a cappella group(s) are semi-professional and consume a lot of time), I found out that it's the same even when it's the other way round. In my case, music helps me cope with computers and computers help me cope with music.

  • This guy obviously isn't used to using the net. where is the constant bombardment of icq messages? What about the emails piling up? How about that big todo list of computer/internet related tasks? It's quite common for me to leave my house once every 2 weeks and I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course with 2 computer and a DSL line would you? ;P
  • Or, even better, why not one of those net to phone things like dialpad.com (which is free)

    Chris_SE [sevenelements.com]
  • by Tom Christiansen ( 54829 ) <tchrist@perl.com> on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:19PM (#1511820) Homepage
    In the original article, the captive writer said:
    I need more intrusive technology. I need to interrupt someone's day with some questions. Now.
    That sounds pretty funny, until it happens to you. My friends and I have always used talk(1) for this kind of infrequent emergency, oh since something like back in 1984 or so. I at least haven't been tempted to use ytalk(1) for ages, but it's there if I really want it.

    These days such calls are a lot less frequent an occurrence. I bet it doesn't happen more than once or thrice a month. This works out well, because we never know where each other really is geographically, so a phone call wouldn't work anyway. It's all nice and real-time. It probably helps that we all type at about 80 words per minute, or better. (And no, I don't know what that is in metric. :-)

  • A reporter suddenly decides to spend five days on the net, and has a rough go of it.

    When I moved to a new city, the first five days were absolute hell. I had no apartment, no food, few friends, and no idea where anything was. When this man moved online, he had pretty much the same thing. If he had stayed on long enough to settle in, things probably would've gotten better (not that I'm saying anyone could live a healthy life online right now). Apparently, he hadn't even discovered the net's greatest asset: cheap and abundant pornography.

  • this sounds about what would happen if you slapped some ignorant joe-average AOLish user on the internet for 5 days. this article really annoyed me. there is a merging point, and we aren't there yet but we're getting there slowly. some people check their email all the time. those people participate in culture online. then there are people who only check their email once in a while. those people don't participate in culture online. people who are online have things they like to do online, and have found good or perhaps better ways of doing things online then in real life. a lot of people haven't found those things. you have to look for them. most people don't check their email once or twice a day, like the average slashdotter. its just ignorance. is that what he expected to find? that everyone on the net is just as wired as him? of course not. i don't like how he completely degraded the internet. its bad press. the average person is slowly discovering more and more about the internet, and as that happens, and computer literacy increases, a transgression will take place. all these things this guy was trying to do will become possible. also, i think its stupid that he couldn't/didn't use the phone. voice communications are not going out of style anytime soon. and its such a similiar technology too. yet again ignorance. [; it sounded more like a personal social expirment then a real test of the internet. i wonder though what would have happened if he had discovered http://www.dialpad.com which offers free phone calls to anywhere over the internet. --tom
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:23PM (#1511824) Journal
    Actually I find the lessons behind Mr. Cribb's experience - that you cannot live solely by doing things over the internet - to be a little disheartening considering the incredibly positive environmental impact that the internet promises to have on society. Not too disheartening, but a little.

    For one, if we achieve its true potential, we will have a mostly paperless society. This will shrink the market for trees (although houses will still be made from wood).

    Air pollution would be drastically cut by the large scale adoption of telecommuting. (So why not take those extra few hours saved from the daily commute, and go out and volunteer or something like that?)

    As for the Mr. Cribb's problem of trying to contact people via email, well stereotypically in a largely online age he might want to contact them via something like MSN Messenger, AIM or ICQ. That is, if they are online with it. The internet phone is right around the corner, and will flourish with the advent of widely deployed Cable Modems / DSL / wireless internet (Ricochet) service. He can just dial up someone on the internet, free of charge, and chat that way. But the infrastructure for reliable internet phone usage, is still a while away...

    The main overlapping theme in his story is the expensive nature of the "grocery" services. This can't be solved. The 'online grocer' business probably won't survive for long, anyways. The cost of delivering goods is too high to justify delivering one or two items, for one. If all he ordered was a stick of deodorant in one shipment, no wonder it cost $14 (Canadian)! That is one unconquerable hurdle. The need to have your goods delivered ASAP, is another one the online grocer cannot handle. Need I go on with this??? heh.

    Anyways..we also know alllll about the online chat versus the meeting people in person thing. Or.. wait a minute.. do we? Perhaps Mr. Cribb's social life is based on a large number of people and activities that are offline. If this is the case then leaving him stuck online is like putting him on a desert island away from his home town. But..... but....... suppose you're a 19 year old guy whose passions are comic books, japanese animation, Linux, and weird alternative music? Do you want to go hang out with people who basically go by the "comic books suck! you better do what I do for fun or I'll call you names and make you feel bad" school of (non)thought? Heck no! Once the online option is presented to someone like that, they're known to lock out the outside world except for work and grocery shopping. In short the online chat phenomenon is a godsend for non conformists seeking fellowship. (Much to the dismay of the researchers and military minds who first created the net...lol... talk about your classic indians and settlers conflict!) The drawback is that it is apparent, in Mr. Cribb's own experience, that showers become optional, and I'm willing to bet that also goes for brushing one's teeth. Can we say 'health hazard'? It is certainly proof of the well known fact that the net has certain socially and medically corrosive effects if it becomes an addiction. (To say nothing about a lack of an incentive to exercise.)

    Okay back to my point. Robert Cribb's experience brought him full circle right back to square one: while the paperless office/society, and the promise of telecommuting, makes the net a valuable and eco-friendly resource, there are still some things in real life that it cannot replace.
  • It *does* replace human contact. I haven't left my room for days and I'm OK. The voices are quieter now, and only talk in perl....
    Tell me about it. :-) I've got like a foot and a half of snow piled up outside my door, and the pasta is running out. Fortunately, we should be unthawed in a day or so. It's either communicate online, or talk to my cat. Unfortunately, my cat doesn't speak perl, so you're the lucky guys. :-)
  • IRC is a barren wasteland of spammers and idiots

    Real life is full of idiots, and tons of ads (aka spam). I don't see how IRC is any different, other than a lot more people want to have sex with you.
  • >He did not forget, he simply did not need to. That's the point. If you spend your day at home,
    >with no other persons to meet, you don't have to do the usual hoopla.

    I dunno, the article alleged he was so offended by his own stink that he bought $14 deodorant. Seems like a quick shower would have been cheaper and easier. But then he wouldn't have been able to write 1/3 of his "tech" article about body odor. Seems like a badly disguised plot device to me -- play on the stereotype of geek-as-unwashed-social-misfit.

  • 1. The net is just a connection end of story. It has no magic of its own. It's the people that count.

    2. If the novelty doesn't wear of businesses will never grow into healthy long lasting companies always just another fad coming through.

    3. Real net users don't go on vacation on the net. They milk it for all it can offer. Like tutorials on every programming language that exists or cookbooks.

    Can't we move past the hype already?
    "Computers should be ... tools... (siglim 120 chars)" Like cars... to the office no more no less.
  • by roamer ( 70273 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:27PM (#1511830)
    I am a student at Georgia Tech, and, like most tech schools, we are a good step ahead of "generic home user" as far as the technology available to us. What I have found is that the more wired I am to the web, the better I learn how to use it, and the more productive I can become in a shorter amount of time. There is no more spending a day at the library to research a topic- I can find more valuable information in an hour on the web. What I do find though, is that I have more time available to socialize with real people, because it takes me less time to do the things I have to do.
    Also, I am much more able to work productively for longer periods of time when I really have to, because I use "personal" forms of communication (aka ICQ), so that I can talk to my friends while I work, with far less inconvenience and at far higher percentage of my productivity than if they were sitting there. It is true that it does lower how much work I can get done per minute, but it is amazing how much easier it is to stay motivated. Frankly, I think this guy was ignorant in how to actually use the internet, and trying to perform tasks that the internet is (currently) not made to do. My opinion, though, is that if the web was enhanced to do your grocery shopping for you so that you could spend 15 minutes to simply whip up your shopping list and paste it into grocery_pricewatch.com instead of a 4 hour trip to Kroger, you would be able to have that much more time to do other things (like socializing with your friends). Of course this would require a different delivery system than is currently used, so that competitive market would make it more convenient, but things like this would save a hell of a lot of time. Besides, imagine how much cheaper it would be if your groceries were not having to be shipped to a retail location, and you weren't having to pay for all the nice facilities and friendly service? Frankly, I am finding it quite a bit more convenient and savings from doing my hardware shopping online. I know that I for one will never shut myself off from the rest of the world- I am a total geek, but I have a life.
  • Social needs? Why do people need social needs? Unless you cannot handle the strain of not having them fulfilled. One could theoretically live for 30 years with things like Schizophrenia, multiple personalities, being a hermit, etc; and still not die. Now if you believe in some sort of "hippie" concept of needing friendship to be alive than perhaps yes. However if I could do something like put muself on a space pod to chart a previously uncharted region of space then I would. People have use the excuse of having a "social life" for thousands of years to prevent progress. Look at many people in SCIFI shows like Star Trek. The only reason the Federation defeated the Dominion was because they has devious, sneaky, hard working people who didn't think that giving their enemies a fair break was a good idea. The whole concept of social dynamics is a complete waste in concerns of progess. Now if you correlate social activity to the carefully crafted dance that is monitary wealth then perhaps it is a good idea. Like I said before in an earlier post excercise is unnecessary in and above of various biochemical enhancements. In the future perhaps we can use these to enhance our ability to spend almost 100% of our time thinking and let technology take care of the rest.
  • For a little more money, he could have ... a real fake doll [realdoll.com].
  • Is there a major financial or time commitement to day trading? Is there any stored databse of say accurate curve fitting analysis to determine the movements of the market?
  • "There is some good news. My shampoo and remarkably small stick of $14 deodorant just arrived by courier. By now, I'm not that interested in having a shower and I've grown to like my odour. It's kind of fruity."

    By the way, the German weekly SPIEGEL magazine did a similar experiment where one of their authors spent a week trying to use the new German Pay TV network.

    Is this some subtly iconoclastic commentary regarding the unexpectedly similar personal hygiene standards between Europeans and North Americans? :-)
  • People on the net only need cute symbols made with two characters to express their feelings ;)
  • by severed ( 82501 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:32PM (#1511836) Homepage
    With another ice age on the horizon (20,000 or 30,000 years from now), I figured it would be a good idea to go to Antartica for five days and write an article about life in the frozen wastes. After all, this is what life in the future is coming to.

    Monday 8:15 am. While walking out side to pick up my daily newspaper that I had air-dropped by the Air Force Search and Rescue team (1,013 dollars US), I found that a polar bear had beat me to it. Disgruntled, I knew that it was going to be a bad day but I decided to stick with it.

    Tuesday 11:15 am. After deciding that I was starting to smell, I took a shower. Unfortunately, the water was realy realy cold, and I developed hypthermia. I wish that bear was back, he sure did look warm.

    Wednesday 10:03 am. Accidentially got tounge stuck to water cooler that I brought with me, so that I could pretend to have conversations with co-workers.

    Wednesday 4:15 pm. Sent letters via carrier pigeons to people that weren't good enough to talk to until now.

    Wednesday 4:20 pm. Polar bear walks by window of my igloo with carrier pigeon blood on it's paws. Sending messages by carrier pigeon sucks, I miss my telephone.

    Thursday 2:12 pm. Downloaded Fight Club from the Internet. Watched fight club. Looking around igloo for gasoline. Rethinking my strategies on how to deal with loneliness.

    Friday 4:05 pm. The first rule is Igloo Club is You Do Not Talk About Igloo Club. The second rule about Igloo Club is you do not talk about Igloo Club. Take this writer. During the day, couldn't tell you the difference between true north and magnetic north. But when he's in the ring with that polar bear, beating the tar out of that artic fur covered mammal, he's a God!

    Friday 8:00 pm. Wating to be airlifted back to the mainland. Have a suitcase full of soap ready.

    (non geeks shouldn't lock themselves up in their apartments with a pc and think that they are going to be able to live like a geek. Strange how he not once considered the idea of reading a book, or watching a few movies (like the stand, followed by the postman, followed by all episodes of Babylon 5. Heck, he'd never even miss the outside world)
  • Sled dogs? If it's a location in say Alaska or Canada perhaps that would work?
  • Yes I can think of several instinces where this could be a good idea. Hiding from the police or a stalker, alienation from humanity due to terminal illness, physical deformity, language barrier, etc. Yes you could want to I in fact do not like to socialize due to lack of really intereseting people out there who would actually would accept me. For that matter I feel alienated in the geographical locatality I am in. Generally it is difficult to live in a world where physical appearence and other factors affect life. Perhaps then all the world's rather unsung individuals who aren't social affencianados.
  • For many years, becoming a techno-hermit has been a dream for me. Just being able to shut out all those annoying humans and to focus entirely upon the computers that I love. Imagine what one could accomplish if one could dedicate all their time to coding, without having to worry about people complaining about their computer not being able to print or some such problem.

    On the flip side of the coin, I do occassionally yearn for human contact. Drinking alone results in missing half the fun.

    Hmmm. Maybe I can find ten or twenty other techno-hermits and we could all band together to form a little isolated society. But then we wouldn't really be hermits anymore. Besides, we would probably be strangling one another within a couple of weeks.

    This problem requires further thought. A part-time techno-hermit perhaps. . . . :)

  • Okay, as an experiment as to "what life will be like in the digital future", it's bunk. As a status report to how far along we are toward a totally wired life, it's interesting. It also gives us a good idea of where we can automate, and where we will still be going outside (evil light, bright orb, hurts my eyes, aah!). Obviously, shopping for sandwiches on the web doesn't make sense. You aren't looking for the best sandwich on the planet, you're looking for a decent sandwich that you can be eating within a half hour. In general, I'd say that anything that everyone buys, and are highly replaceable (as in, I don't care exactly what I get, any one of a number of things that fulfills these requirements) don't make sense to buy or sell online. Look at where the web boomed first -- books, music and videos. Why? Because they are special interest items. Not books in general, of course, but any given book isn't of interest to 99% of the population. On the other hand, I don't really care whether I use Suave, Tresemmé, or whatever other shampoo. This is something I should continue buying at the local store. Human contact is an area where we don't really know yet. On the one hand, there are obvious advantages to being in the same physical room as someone, but there's also the issue that I may have a lot more to talk about with someone half way around the world than with my neighbor.
  • try something like netzero or freei or something similar if you have the right hardware (56k) you can usually connect for free forever.
  • Except for the working at home part, this sounds a lot like my daily life... Is that bad???
  • .. and a room full of my good friends any day over the social delight that is the net. Oh an give me my girlfriend in bed any day over anyone on IRC. The net is a tool, and nothing more to me.
  • Until the web (or its offspring) can transmit non-written conservation like language pitch and context, and body language - "rich conversation" - I don't think it's going to feasible to cut oneself off entirely from the outside world

    Who would want to. Don't you need to see people smile, stare at chicks, see random people walking in the street, and partake of the occasional piece of female flesh?

    Now this is not flamebate, but anyone who chooses to eliminate human contact for virtual contact is a complete freak. The net is great and fun, but it is a poor substitute for real life.
  • Unfortunately, I work an hour away from where I live, so my work days don't go as well as this guy's.

    My days off however, are quite similar. I usually never leave my Computer room except maybe for some food. I usually do take showers on my day off, but there have been days where I skipped it. Breakfast on the day off is usually better than workdays. It should be the other way around, but it's not. I enjoy my days off, and breakfast is my favorite meal, so 2 eggs hit the frying pan, toast gets toasted, and I read my daily comics with some juice.

    The rest of the day is internet-based. Slashdot, E-Mail, and TFC (Team Fortress Classic) steal my day, with occasional breaks for lunch, dinner, and a midday snack.

    What a wonderful life. :)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I havn't had outside contact since '94, he's such a rookie. I'd say I smell more like rotten cheese, not fruit... mmm... cheese... What do you think, should we have some cheese? NO! NO CHEESE! But... NO! No cheese until you kill those people... But I LIKE my parents! They're just out ot get you! I'm your only friend! But you make me do bad things... No, I protect you! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MY HEAD MY HEAD MY HEAD IT CAN SEE ME!!!
    Uh, yes... as I was saying I havn't been outside since '94, and I'm fine! This writer must not be OH GOOOOOODDDDDDD DON'T MAKE ME PULL OUT MY HAIR AHHHHHH!!!!!!

    If you think you know what the hell is really going on you're probably full of shit.
  • Of course, I got other things to do (e.g. eat, watch TV, shower, errands, etc). :)

  • Speaking as a writer, and often onliner, I can say with certainty that text can express everything that needs to be expressed.

    If I use phrases like:
    "i c yes, it is c00l."
    Then problems will crop up.

    If I were to write:
    "Oh, I see! Your implementation of a perl-script to get your beer is cunning!"
    Then my meaning gets across.

    The same rules apply in written conversations as do in writing of any kind. Because the physical cues aren't there to pick up on, one must be clear, accurate, and precise with diction.

    Style is everything, d00dz.
  • by lordhades ( 1091 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @03:58PM (#1511852)
    Come on - he laments the fact that he can't stand around the office water cooler? Is it obvious only to me that if everyone were out of the office they'd gather for meaningless conversation in some other forum?

    In our office, we've got an in internal IRC server that we use a lot when we're working from home. Of course, it only gets used by the developers, but we do tend to get a lot of communication done through it. The trick is to use the Internet as a supplementary tool. My boss knows to email me before he calls, even though I have a cell phone. (I guess he's seen me pop the battery off the back when someone I didn't want to talk to was calling. ;) If I've got a question for a co-worker, I check in IRC-land before calling him/her. I could WORK for days from my apartment, sitting in front my my monitor with my cat trying to type for me, and sometimes I do. However I have no desire to re-route all of my functions through my computer.
  • I dunno. You're right of course, but...

    I've found that for me it is easier to communicate most things by email type stuff. I have a much better sense of humor when writing (I can carefully construct each joke and pun to achieve maximum effect). I am far less likely to put my foot far up my mouth - email and other written forms of communication allow plenty of time to think, consider, and assemble any arguments.

    There are some things online, written communication is unsuited for. But there is a lot that it works well with. At least for me.
  • Corned beef sandwiches and beer?

    What ever happend to donuts, pizza and mountain dew? Amateurs...

  • If market fluctuations fit to curves we would all be millionaires. Some of the most sophisticated supercomputers in America are owned by financial institutions, in part to run their extremely sophisticated computer models of certain areas of the market. Even their methods aren't all that accurate. It's an interesting area to do research in, though - and there's quite a potential payoff.
  • by cburley ( 105664 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @04:04PM (#1511857) Homepage Journal
    Several responses have indicated a strong desire among some to "save time" by not having to go shopping.

    Well, yes, there are times I'd find that mighty convenient (especially in bad weather), as would my wife.

    But give up the whole shopping experience? Ditto for other activities that can, at least theoretically, be carried out on a future Internet?

    No Way.

    I've run into to many friends and acquaintances in the supermarket (despite my relatively low lifetime frequency of shopping), and, hey, I met my wife in church, so "on-line worship" doesn't strike me as a wonderful alternative to being There, either.

    The great thing about the Internet is that it opens up a world of possibilities for nearly everybody, vis-a-vis their often-limited assumptions about What Can Happen.

    The dangerous thing about the Internet is that too many people will close their mind to the world of possibilities inherent in the everyday mundane activities of real life.

    There's simply no substitute for the kind of playful shoulder-punching in the church foyer my wife and I engaged in while discussing some church business, a simple-but-effective precursor to the mating ritual society calls "dating". Even a Star Trek holodeck could not possibly recreate the casual trust and tenderness expressed by that sort of interaction -- forget about today's or tomorrow's real-world Virtual Reality.

    Never underestimate the sublime joy of finding an attractive member of the desired gender in a supermarket, assuming a confused look (which is far more easily practiced off line than on), and plaintively asking, "Excuse me, but where's the toast?"

    Nor should one underestimate the value of a warm smile to someone else, or to yourself -- or of a "have a nice day" -- when it's obviously not simply part of someone's .sig.

  • You can't expect someone to live only off the Internet. That's not how life was meant to be.

    "meant to be"? That sort of depends whose rulebook you're following. You could take the old-testament viewpoint and say that life was "meant to be" nothing more than standing around naked in a garden for eternity, avoiding a particular tree. Personally, I'd rather explore some other options. I think this was an interesting experiment. It didn't "work", but it did identify a specific set of problems. Some of these (like the lack of audio communication) could be solved by modifications of the technology, while others reveal fundamental problems with the premise of the experiment. Either way, it's knowledge gained (though many of us already knew many aspects of it).

    If you think it was just a waste of time, consider that long-duration space missions will probably touch on some of these same issues - you have to find new ways to communicate with people, and wait a long time to get stuff shipped to you (or you have to learn to do without it). Closer to home, as cities get more crowded and polluted, people probably will spend an increasing amount of time at home. It won't necessarily be a bad thing (I know I could do with less commuting-to-work and grocery shopping).

    Final point: Isn't such a thing horrible for your physical health as well?

    Yes, it is an unfortunate consequence of evolution that our bodies don't have a decent 'standby' mode and need to expend so much effort in pointless busy-work just to be ready for that one time that we're running to catch a bus. However, even though we're many years away from being able to fix the root cause of the problem, there are workarounds (e.g. to wire your computer to a treadmill or exercise bike). Sure there are times when you want to go out for a walk or bike ride, but there are also times (such as winter in coastal British Columbia) when the weather's just so foul, damp, and depressing that indoors is the best place to be.

  • Well, I work at home, and I shower everyday.
    I don't like being stinky, although some certain online columnists [hissyfit.com] seem to enjoy comparing body odour(s).
    If I started to slip and go around with unkempt hair and unclean person, the kind people at Starbucks on the corner would probably not let me in anymore.

  • I think given scope to do anything I want as long as I was nothing but Net for five days I think I might even end up learning something.
    Exactly. There's InformIT [informit.com], BiblioMania [bibliomania.com], Slashdot, and more very informative and educational sites.

    Also, I think that it is a completely different experience if you are a nerd, since you actually know what to look for, and where to look for it.

    Finally, he could make phone calls with Dialpad [dialpad.com], order groceries for same-day delivery at WebVan [webvan.com], etc.

    Conclusion: Before you decide to do something like this, DO A LITTLE RESEARCH!


  • Landsend.com [landsend.com] comes close, probably without even knowing it. If you try shopping for womens' clothing, you'll find that they provide a virtual model, which can be made to look quite delicious. Granted, it wasn't meant to be used as pr0n, and it isn't poseable or anything like that, but I think that we're not far away from something similar, but aimed at the pr0n lovers. :)


  • In case you haven't already figured this out, IRC is a barren wasteland of spammers and idiots.
    Sure, if you join #teenchat on EFNet. :P


  • if( /It's been (\w+) lately/ && ($1 eq 'quiet') && ! -f '/var/log/festival.pid' ) {
    say("Your really should redownload that festival");
    say("Remember, when the pipe from irc to the speech synthesizer brought all those voices to your room?");
    say("It sure was scary, but you were relieved in the long run, ");
    say("weren't you?");
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem is you're taking someone who's well socialized and removing that.

    I, OTOH, grew up completely sheltered. The only socializing I could do was at school. No sleep-overs. No games. No phone. My family was and is cold and did not interact.

    Socially, I'm stumped at trying to read bodily language in a conversation. If I'm just observing, I can do it but trying to do it while trying to articulate words in a conversation is very hard. Socializing isn't natural, it's learned behavior. I can talk about issues, specific topics but forget trying to have small talk. If I'm in a goal-oriented situation, I'm fine but just hanging out doing mindless crap? Forget it.

    Consequently, net communication is as real as anything else and much less frustrating for me. I get my social needs met with email, threaded conversations and reading fan-fiction on-line.

    Is net-only living ideal? No, but it's not all that bad either.

    Read _The_Media_Equation_ about how people treat computer conversations the same as real conversations.

  • I rarely post me-too's, but I just couldn't resist here...


    Moderate my comment's parent up!


  • I read this as I am eating dry Fruit Loops (I think ?) out of a cup and instead of getting a spoon I just poor them in my mouth. -- Fruit Loops is a Trademark of who ever the hell owns it so dont sue me I was just hungry
  • If you drink enough, you can make up people to talk to.
    Joshua C. Stein
    Superblock Information Systems

  • Sorry guys, but this was just pointless.

    It begins with a phony premise:
    Studies show [theonion.com] us getting wired to the Internet, working from home, shopping through computer lines, communicating through e-mail, going out less and living far more of our lives through a computer screen.

    It ends in a bogus conclusion:
    I conclude that much of this technology is trying to solve a problem that doesn't really exist.

    Clunk. No sale.

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • Given that you can only get audiovisual information, you can still get audiovisual information instead of emails through the telephone -- or if you don't want to pay, dialpad.com. And IRC (or AIM or ICQ) are much faster than email.
  • ...my voices talk to me in Visual Basic. sigh...

    The Kulturwehrmacht [onelist.com]

  • You can't expect someone to live only off the Internet. That's not how life was meant to be.

    That's also not how the Internet was meant to be. You might as well ask someone to live only off of the telephone or the radio or the newspaper. Perhaps next month, the author will lock himself in a library and write about how it is hard to live there for a week.

    It's not technology failing, it's people who fail to understand that technology is merely a tool who are failing.

    QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4!

  • Many guys I knew in college spent 5 semesters constantly being online, not just a mere 5 days.

    I think it's interesting that you say they only spent five semesters online... Are we to assume the last three weren't completed? I know I'm running that risk at times.

    As for the article, I think it was rather weak. He tells us about maybe an hour's worth of his day. I think I could've used less information about his B.O. and more about the little adventures you go on everytime you try and find something new to do or read online.


  • Finally, he could make phone calls with Dialpad [dialpad.com], order groceries for same-day delivery at WebVan [webvan.com], etc.

    In case you didn't notice, the article was in the Toronto Star. Toronto is in Canada. WebVan doesn't deliver to Canada. In fact, I'm sure that there are significantly fewer Canadian Internet companies doing deliveries.

    Conclusion: Before you decide to do something like this, DO A LITTLE RESEARCH!

  • 5 days online and he a found a gay chat? this story was silly.

    If I (or many of you) were to "concentrate" on what I did over a 5 day period online, it would have to be condensed down from epic book proportions. From massive pitched battles to deep philosophical discussions, huge (relatively) cash movements, and other strange things, and that's without even paying attention or even focusing on the online world, that's just "normal".

    What he should have done is just started exploring at random. That always leads to strange things. 5 days of that could drive drive Wonko the Sane crazy.

    Not using a phone? Hullo, voice over IP, that counts as "using" the 'Net, right? The author should be locked in a box for 5 days just for this story, then he can write about THAT.
  • Why is it harder to carry out a conversation via email than it is face to face? [...] Email and other web-based communication techniques that rely on the written word rather than the spoken word can only communicate a minority of the contextual information that a human being typically expects to receive during a conversation.
    Everything you just said is true.

    But I think there's something critical that you failed to mention. You're talking about a conversation that's time delayed. When I send someone mail, even if they read and respond right away, there's still a significant latency between the time that I was composing my note and when I eventually read their response. This time lag can easily stretch into days--sometimes even longer.

    Despite the readily observable fact that most electronic communications are written as though they were quick post-it notes, at least in the case of those media which are not interactive in real time, our written words often have a lot more to do than they would in a simple post-it note. They need to make up for the missing context.

    Back when folks actually sent each other letters in the post, a very different sort of communication occurred. This is particularly evident in those letters that went overseas, or which were composed before we had our mail delivered by high-speed aircraft. In these circumstances, a great deal more care was put into careful drafting and composition. The greater the latency in delivery, the more context would be provided, the more care taken.

    Today when you send mail via the computer, you find that unlike the many famous collected letters of our forefathers, our own written notes no longer use what one would call "written English". In the vast majority of cases, communications via electronic media are treated with a level of informality that was previously found only on post cards and notes stuck on the front of the fridge or computer terminal. In other words, most of us employ "spoken English" in our daily electronic exchanges.

    But as you yourself noted, there's a grave problem here. The amount of context provided is nothing like what you would get in a face-to-face, real-time conversation. It doesn't even compare favorably with the environment of a telephone conversation, in which you can at least perceive the intonation and stress patterns of the other party's voice.

    The art of writing letters, and, all too often it seems today, the very art of writing itself, have faded into historical obscurity leaving us an impoverished shell of sound bytes and surface banter. As disturbing as the effect itself is the realization that this has happened to us without even our being aware of what we were losing.

    Once you recognize that written and spoken English are, in some senses, different languages, you can start to analyse their respective advantages and disadvantages. Clearly spoken English is more spontaneous than written English. But the written form enjoys a far richer potential because of its capacity to hold and convey more nuance and detail from the writer to his reader. And it's not actually as much harder as you might initially fear. That's because no one requires you to type the same words that youd' use in a quick pub chat. In a written medium, you are free to choose your words more carefully, to play games with word order, and to compose sentences of a richer syntactic pattern than most of are comfortable doing in in a spoken medium. And you can clean up your mistakes, too.

    There is much to be said for adopting a considered hand in all but the most ephemeral of written exchanges. There is no question that this requires more time, more effort. It's also true that in some contexts, such increased levels of care and attention are largely unwarranted. And it must be recognized that what one would consider writing using "written English" is hardly a skill that comes naturally to everyone, and that we must not discourage those who have a hard time with using written English from contributing their unique voices to the collective discourse.

    That being said, if there is one thing I would dearly like to see is for our children to rediscover the enchantment of the written word. They must be challenged to read as much as they can. Of no less importance is their commensurate need to write as much they can, too. Literacy has plummeted in the United States over the last few decades from a place of honor in the world rankings to one of considerable shame. I do not pretend to understand all the causes, but a principal component to the solution is both simple and clear: more reading, more writing.

    I do not know that the increased penetration of the Internet has necessarily helped this situation of our society's loss of the written word. I see scant little written English being written today in our on-line mail and news exchanges, nor in any other forum you care to name, this one included. Then again, I don't intend to blame the net for this, either. Our newspapers are written at a fifth-grade level; our weekly news magazines in America are little improved beyond that. It would not surprise me to learn that the majority of Americans would probably find not merely Scientific American but even The Economist too complex in word choice and syntactic structure for their diminished capabilities.

    Do our children even recognize the written world they could be participating in on-line? I don't know. Probably they relegate that world of writing to their grammar schools. But the better they can write and the better they can organize their ideas and thoughts and then convey these to others, the better they will do later in life, largely irrespective of which particular career they land in. Communication skills help everywhere.

    Why, after all, do you think that liberal arts majors are in such high demand these days? Not a small part of it is from their generalist training and their ability to communicate well, It is an area that the stereotypical geek is often not at his best, but it doesn't have to be.

    So next time you jot out a piece of mail, especially if it's something that really matters to you, remember that the person on the other end isn't right there in the same room watching you, nor are they on phone listening to you, either. Consider the context they'll be losing, and try to make up for this loss by the quality of you writing.

    And whatever you do, please read over your message twice before actually sending it. Remember: what you write once wil by others be read a million times, especially in this particlar forum. :-) Look for bugs, redundancies, inconsistencies, and awkward constructs in your prose just as you might look for these infelicities in your source code. People will be tacitly thankful you did. Best of all, you'll stand a much better change of getting your point across--which is, after all, why you're bothering to type something in the first place.

  • Email and other web-based communication techniques that rely on the written word rather than the spoken word can only communicate a minority of the contextual information that a human being typically expects to receive during a conversation.

    that's why we need to be able to post voice-mp3's to /.

    There is one thing missing - the office water cooler. Where's the joy in reading a goofy Mel Lastman quote if you can't share it?

    Mel who?, I wanna talk about nanites and software.
  • Actually, planetrx.com offer personal hygene products. I'm at college without a car, and it's pretty convionant to order these things without having to bum a ride from someone to get into town.
  • If grocery stores did this, they would need no more than 24 hours notice, and could get by with much less. All they have to do is the same thing I do when I shop for myself - pick the food off the shelves based on a list, put it in bags, and bring it to my home.

    The only issue I see is selection of produce - they would have to do a good job, so I don't have to go to the store and do it myself. I would also need a way to indicate what quality is acceptable, and if nothing is available, then don't give me that item. (e.g. I frequently go to the store and find that none of the tomatoes are any good).

    Shopping at the supermarket is a tremendous hassle. I have to go out of my way to get to a decent one. (not a great distance, but enough to annoy me). Then I get there, and get a terrible parking spot. I first go to the produce aisle, and then stand still looking around. If I'm lucky, they havn't rearranged things in the past week. If I'm not, I have to wander about looking for everything I want. This, while pushing a cart around, surrounded by people I don't want to be near. I have to walk up and down most every aisle,
    navigating my cart around screaming children. I'll usally know right where something is, now that I'm familiar with the store, but I'll still have to search for some things. OK, now I've got a cart full of food, and I go to find the shortest line to wait in. Surrounded by an endless mob of people, I wait, and wait. The cashier takes forever with everything. Her nametag says she's worked there 3 years. How proud she must be. Whoops, the person in front of me was trying to buy paper towels, but nobody knows what they cost. Someone is wandering around looking for the information, while the cashier just stands there. I offer to pay for the paper towels, $5 in cash and the cashier can keep the change. Just please keep things moving. Nope, can't do that, we wait some more. Finally, my turn. This usually goes smoothly, besides taking a while. Someone bags my groceries for me most of the time. I push the cart out, load my car up, and drive home - carefully, so I don't damage anything or spill the bags. With luck it will be one trip up the stairs. Usually it's two. After all that work, I still have to put everything away.

    Buying groceries wastes my valuable time. I have to needlessly spend time doing something that is neither enjoyable nor profitable.
  • I have to admit, I had doubt going into reading this story. It's been done before, but much worse. The concept of living "the future" has facinated us all at some point. I've spent ( and my wife can attest to this ) days just communicating from one point in my house without moving from my desk. Work overload which is mixed with pleasure (read: porn and mp3 hunting ) can lead to even more work. I've spent many a night telling myself ... "if I play a game of quake while I'm waiting for this kernel to download ... ".

    I think this article went out of it's way to show the casual reader that the hype is not what it seems. "Wired" life is far from reality ... just kinda a nice vacation.

  • Is there any stored databse of say accurate curve fitting analysis to determine the movements of the market?

    Honesty? Reliability? Rationality? All the qualities of the things that drive the market, people. Trying to model worldwide (real-time) human behaviour is pointless. Although, in true Douglas Adams fashion, I hear a potted plant [slashdot.org] is able to do it.
  • I'm a geek. You're a geek. Computers are our life. We make it our life. However, computers are more or less tools. Very flexible tools - they can be used for almost anything - but tools they remain.

    For the average person, the coming "technology revolution" doesn't mean we're all gonna be hermits. I'll bet that when people first came in contact with the mass use of telephones, people griped that we were all gonna become people who couldn't talk to each other in person any more. WRONG.

    It'll be the same thing with the Internet and Computers. Sure, you'll be able to order your groceries on line. Sure, you'll be able to chat with people. Yes, you may be able to video conference with your next door neighbor with a terminal, but that doesn't mean it HAS to be that way. And there are many people out there who will make sure it won't be that way.
  • > Is this some subtly iconoclastic commentary regarding the unexpectedly similar personal
    > hygiene standards between Europeans and North Americans? :-)

    No, you've got it wrong. That's Europeans and Canadians. U.S. Citizens generally display better hygiene than either group.


  • Come on, try use text to wirte a City of Lost Children [imdb.com] to me.

  • 1) Yup

    2) Yup, but it'll cost ya. Too many places/sites to list. Most charge.

  • Sounds familiar. I was amazed when I first ate over at a friends house and people were actually speaking to each other over lunch or dinner. All the meals I've had have been pretty much completely silent. Which is to say, my small talk skills are, well, malnurished. Any goal oriented group I do fine. I also do best socially when the group is going to do something. I couldn't 'Hang out' if my life depended on it.
  • But there's no way you could possibly express the entire range of human emotions with just a few smileys. Even given the long lists of silly smileys that make their way around the net (and does anyone really know what something like [8=)] means anyway?), you just can't express the entire range of verbal communication in email or IRC or whatever.
  • And so I see that the old school yet follows that time-tested tradition: By their postings shall ye know them. :-)
  • I think this guy is trying to be like a stereotype nerd. I might be a nerd but I still use the phone, care about personal hygiene, and go out and do things. You can't just sit in the house for 4 days and call yourself a nerd. It takes years of expierence to become a nerd :)
  • yup, just use the 'Net to save time. Buying plane tickets, lotso' shopping, etc, all at your convenience. It's not a matter of how much you can cram into 5 days, but how much time you can save in a year. Or how you can turn an obscure geek site into $12mil in a coupla' years...

    silly article, seems to have been written about 2 years ago. When the Internat HADN'T changed the world. It certainly hasn't changed the author's.

  • I like to think that there are three stages of internet usage.

    Firstly, it's all new, and you go looking everywhere, spend hours on it, etc. This lasts a few weeks.

    Then, you've basically seen it all. There's nothing to do anymore. The Net might be better now than when I learnt about it, but it's still got a long way to be perfect.

    In the third stage you gradually learn about sites you can regularly read like Slashdot. Eventually you may even get to the stage you have to ignore sites because you don't have the time for them all. You know you're in this stage if you have over 500 bookmarks.

    This guy is probably still in the second stage. He doesn't know what would interest him online. Most people are probably unable to get out of this stage, because it's too hard to find what interests them, but eventually the internet will mature to a stage where they will easily do so.

    Of course, there's still the matter of shopping online, which anyone would have a problem with. If I had to do it that way, I'd certainly make sure I stocked up beforehand. =)
  • Don't you need to see people smile, stare at chicks, see random people walking in the street, and partake of the occasional piece of female flesh?
    The number of unsustainable assumptions in this innocent but puerile posting could fill more than a few term papers. I'm embarrassed even to have read it.
  • Bravo! Thank you for a well-written, thoughtful post. I believe that this posting should appear as a Slashdot editorial, and not languish as merely a response to a comment on a story. Why? Simply, communication is important. The Internet, and moreso the World Wide Web, changed our society and economy by opening up fantastic new channels of communication. Its nature allows one person to be heard easily by millions. Among its other effects, the Internet fostered the ascendency of the free/open source software model. Honestly, would Linux have grown to its current power if we still had to pass its source code around via simple BBS or even Fidonet-type systems? I can't imagine so.

    Proper communication is still important for the functioning of an open source project, or political movement, or simple exchange of ideas without flames. As somewhat of a linguistic geek myself, I've noted with dismay the declining quality of online writing. I can forgive simple confusion like it's/its or affect/effect, but lately I've seen more and more people pay little heed to proper sentence structure or legibility, instead using a stream-of-conciousness style that's very confusing. When the whole point of writing is to communicate a thought or an idea, I find it hard to understand why people can't take simple steps to facilitate the communication, rather than hindering it.

    As all Slashdot readers are Internet users in one way or another, how people use the potential of the 'net is important, and good communication skills are part and parcel of it. Therefore, I think this essay needs a chance at the front page.

  • Back when folks actually sent each other letters in the post, a very different sort of communication occurred. This is particularly evident in those letters that went overseas, or which were composed before we had our mail delivered by high-speed aircraft. In these circumstances, a great deal more care was put into careful drafting and composition. The greater the latency in delivery, the more context would be provided, the more care taken.

    Those were the good ole' days of litterate programming. Now people just throw a few lines of perl, w/o comments.


  • Well I don't know about that. After getting to know a few people online -- who seemed to have very elegant prose -- they seemed like complete nimwits with nothing intelligent to say in person.

    I'm not saying that there's something wrong with having time to compose yourself -- but it allows some people to present themselves as things they are not by just doing a couple of quick web searches. You can't exactly put someone on the spot when e-mailing can you? :)

    It's agreed that grammar and diction is important -- but really, I prefer to change my written and spoken flow of words completely depending on the situation and audience. The real importance is in getting your point across, after all. On slashdot, for instance, I like a using a lot of line breaks and normalized language for that "conversational feel".

    Anyway, what I was really trying to get to, is that in e-mail (or forums like this), people will tweak their messages to a point where they hide their faults and certain unknowns; whereas in normal conversation, it's more or less, question, answer, thought from me, thought from her/him and I can analyze what they are *really* thinking; not what they want to present.

    E-mail is of course, good for many things such as long boring explanations or arguments such as this -- but anything that requires social interaction, coercion, and 'reading of thoughts', I'd prefer leaving to real time audio and visual realms (notice I left room for future technologies.. :)
  • Know your audience. What is a forum for detailed analysis and peer review for one, may be a group to inflict particularly annoying quips on for others.

    I engage in various types of written communication in e-mail, and I can tell you the most important lesson I have learned is discretion. I previously wrote long detailed analysis, or provided more or less a snapshot of what was going through my mind at a certain moment, and eventually found out how much of a waste of time it was. It's very important to recognize that there is nothing wrong with short spelling error ridden text. Things like, "hey, how's it going"; "I'm going to blah next weekend, want to come?", are perfectly normal things to say in maintaining a relationship with the least amount of effort. When I want to provide a detailed, well written opinion or thought, I will. This is similar to 2 paragraph, generally off-the-cuff, replies that I post on slashdot. I'm sorry, I don't have the time or inclination to make the effort to write properly thought out flowing works of posting art. On average, I'm probably doing about 13 other things while reading slashdot, so efficient and poetic language usually isn't an option. If I'm trying to write a persuasive or argumentative essay, maybe. On slashdot, no way.
  • No, the fact that one has nothing to do with the other. Being able to understand language and following up on human impulses are not similar at all.
  • That just comes with becoming confortable with instantaneous thought to speech. Don't try to be so sophisticated in speech. After you become comfortable speaking with people in general, you will find that thoughts will come to you impromptu. Just don't be to hard on yourself. Written and spoken language are completely different. You just have to get used to the different nuances in spoken language that allow you to articulate better.

    Often, after long working binges, especially after writing a lot of e-mails or documentation, I sometimes temporarily studder or stop in mid sentence to gather my thoughts. This is because in those other forms of communication, I have the ability to gather a large amount of information, think about how I'm going to present it, change my words around many times, and then finally write them down.

    Like others have said, It will come to you naturally with practice.
  • It's a lifestlyle issue. If you live in an urban sprawl, there's no real benefit to going out and shopping for food, because you'll just end up at a chain store in a strip mall. On the other hand, if you live someplace where you actually enjoy being outside, someplace amenable to walking, there are few greater pleasures than strolling down the street on a sunny day and picking up a still-hot baguette at your favorite bakery, or maybe even hitting the local farmers' market. If you live in a small town (like my home town of around 70,000 people) you meet friends all the time. We used to joke that you couldn't walk two blocks downtown without running into someone you knew, and it was largely true. And this was in a town of 70,000 people (with large turnover from college students), not some backwater!

    As I say, it's an issue of lifestyle. Do you need to go out and deliberately seek out fun, or is there fun in everyday life? The community in which you live plays a big part in answering this question.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • It's a decent idea in principle, but it doesn't work in reality uness you don't care much about the quality of what you're buying. When I go shopping, I like to squeeze the cheeses, smell the spices (I buy them in bulk), look for the freshest vegetables and the ripest fruits. Sometimes I will tailor my menu to the food that's on hand, so I can take advantage of really fresh local produce.

    The Internet is good for times when location doesn't matter. Information is just as fresh and tasty when it comes from halfway around the world (and often more so). But food is not the same way. Location matters.

    Conclusion: Using the Internet for food shopping is banging a square peg into a round hole.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal