David Kordahl

Hello, world.

In Internet on 2010/11/28 at 4:59 am

This is the dawning of a new blog—an occurrence, by this point in history, that should be celebrated less than it should be punished by a fine. It’s hard even for people who are used to spending time on the Internet to get just how many websites are out there; back in 2008, Google’s blog was bragging that Google knew about 1 Trillion (yes, trillion) unique web addresses, and that wasn’t even counting the so-called ‘Deep Web’, the extensive array of sites unregistered by any search engine on the planet. And while this is surprising on one level (humans, who have but ten fingers and ten toes, are hardly well equipped to deal with numbers like 1,000,000,000,000), there’s a whole lot of other levels that help to explain this profusion pretty readily: it’s easy to get stuff on the web (heck, if you want to set up your own server, here you go), and if there’s one thing that the World Wide Web has taught us, it’s that thoughts need not be overly significant to merit extreme exposure.

Which is all to say that despite the obvious significance of a blog launch to its author, a reasonable man might do well to hedge all bets regarding the expected exposure that he might garner by setting up a thinky-thoughts clearinghouse on the Internet. With a trillion competitors, the odds of success are lower than state lottery level of odds…even once he’s granted that many of those competitors are randomly generated by dispassionately productive spambots.

This sort of discussion concerning the vastness of the Internet, of course, is not exactly breaking news. But my brief pilgrimage to Real America for Thanksgiving reminded me what a distinctively modern POV an Internet-induced knowledge of non-uniqueness forces upon its users. On Wednesday evening in icy Iowa, as a prelude to the Holiday Feast, my mom offered all visitors a sample of her newly-perfected squash soup. “It’s very unique,” she bragged. “I don’t know of anyone else who is doing this.”

After supper, we recessed to the living room, where I attempted to give Dad, ever reluctant to admit the utility of modern technology, a sales pitch for the Internet. “Look,” I said, attempting to whip up a froth of content that might entice him to concede the point, “whatever you want, I can find it. Just call something out. Anything!”

”How about squash soup?” offered Mom. “I bet you won’t be able to find that.”

My eyes preemptively rolled. “When I say Anything, I mean it,” I said. Harsh though this may have been, Google’s instantly generated numbers backed my assertion. Search for squash soup, and you get 1,140,000 hits; ”squash soup”, and you get 601,000. Add to this the 555,000 images and 806 videos, and I considered my point fairly won. “I guess we’re not the only ones doing this, after all. Huh,” said Mom.

It is the place of children to bring unhappiness to their parents, I guess, but in terms of battles and wars, I lost: Dad remains as convinced as ever that his book-lined office has enough information contained therein to last him a lifetime, and unless I can make more headway during upcoming holidays, that prophecy will be self-fulfilled. The Internet, it’s been said (in such documentaries as this one), has made what’s probably the biggest generation gap since Rock-n-Roll. Exactly how that will play out is sort of ipso facto unknowable, (the future, by its nature, being all the things that haven’t happened yet), but it’s impossible that such immediate feedback confirming one’s cell-by-cell non-uniqueness won’t have some long-ranging consequences. The deep questions that this raises—big sticklers like, Does understanding that others share my quirks and fetishes, my dreams and fears, make the world seem kinder, or sadder, or scarier, or all of the above?–are, as we say, ‘beyond the scope of this text’. One way forward, as always, is to ignore the evidence that one more is not required, and what you get in that case is another fitful blog, whimpering into the void.

Hello, world.

  1. When you stare into the void, the void stares back – though take comfort that also watching are a few of those souls who, too, have semi-melodramatically cyber-wandered across the techno-threshold. It appears as if we both decided to start playing the odds the same week, as it also appears we had similar experiences over the holiday weekend: my attempts to convince one uncle that his painting services could easily be promoted via an easy-to-set-up website (not unlike the type WordPress offers) were parried by another uncle with the rejoinder that his customers not only know, but appreciate the fact that his construction business operates entirely free of computers.

    Both sides of the family also served squash (of the mashed variety), while meanwhile another squash sits in my fridge waiting to be used in a soup. The web may need another site like we all need an unpleasant metaphor, but as we all seem to have our own figurative squash, we also have the prerogative to cook it somehow. We may be joining thousands upon trillions of others out there doing similar things, but why should the spambots have all the fun? Human desire to create and all that. Plus, as in the future the Web will be dredged every election cycle to find inflammatory statements to attempt to disqualify each and every individual from holding public office, we might as well keep the future open by giving the muckraker-bots of tomorrow plenty to sift through.

  2. Excellent blog start David. I hope this new blog works out for you.

    In regards to your post, I think one strong reason people of the older generation a hesitant to make the jump to significant use of the Internet is because they are unsure on where they stand in context of it. With older media outlets, they feel they have a grasp on what is reliable and their relative ability to master them. They don’t have this on the Internet.

    In addition, there are tons of factors that make use of the Internet difficult or unpleasant for those uneducated to its movements. Two big factors are: the unpleasant truths or factors people find on the Internet that make them uncomfortable, and the variety of short hand expression on the Internet that are verging on becoming a second language.

    I would be interested to see your thoughts on this.

    Take care.


    • I think your second paragraph is especially insightful. When, casually, I mentioned to my Dad that one of the accepted and well-known facts of the Internet was that ‘If something exists, there’s a porn of it,’ his eyes widened to the point that I saw that I am living in a very different world than he is.

  3. […] and when I use my family as writing material, this is invariably what happens. My father, whose other appearance in these pages pages was as an outré technophobe, is probably not fairly represented by this […]

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