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UK Independent Article Slams "net surfing"
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 1995 10:59:03 -0500

From: bill () unipalm co uk (Bill Thompson)
Newsgroups: uk.media,alt.cyberpunk,alt.surfing,alt.internet.media-coverage
Subject: UK Independent Article Slams "net surfing"

I am posting this on behalf of the author, Andy Martin who does
not have an Internet mail address.  It appeared in the UK Independent
on Tuesday 24 Jan.  I will pass replies on (the more abusive the better,
if you ask me :-) )

-------------------------   STARTS HERE ----------------

Dear Net Junkies,

Go  ahead and fry your brains, turn  into zombies, it's a
free world. I don't mind if  you  want to fritter away your
 lives wired  up to a terminal. It's none of  my business
if  you  get  your  kicks  from interactive electronic sex.
I even  admit to a kind of sneaking admiration when you
hack   into  some international  banking corporation or the
Pentagon. Some  of  my best friends are computer nerds.

But  whenever  I hear the latest  techno- babble  about
'surfing the Internet,' I reach  for my gun. I can
understand that, hooked  up to a heap of silicon, you are
bound  to  be desperate for some spurious glamour.  But
let's get things straight: clicking   your  mouse  is  not
surfing. Dialing   up   a  monstrously over-hyped global
noticeboard does not make you into cool  dudes, beach boys
in baggy  shorts. 'Graze'  the Net, if you will,  like  the
less  hypocritical couch potatoes  whose only  exercise is
punching  their  remote controls. Cruise, crawl, trawl or
snuffle the net - but not surf.

'Surfing the Net' is not just a piece  of innocent  poetic
licence.  There  is a sinister undertow, a clear danger of
hard- won lived experience being swept away  by pixels. A
generation is growing up  under the   impression  that
jacking  in   and booting  up and opening a window is  what
surfing  really is. Riding massive  life- threatening
waves,  probably  the   most difficult  and dangerous  and
rapturous sport  in  the world, with its  roots  in
Polynesian culture going back a couple of millennia,  will
come  to  be  seen   as derivative,  a video-game dreamed
up  by burned-out keyboard jockeys. 'Getting in the tube' -
the ultimate sensation - will be  interpreted  as a mere
metaphor for gazing   mesmerically  into   your   Mac,
synaptically   synchronizing with   the cosmic artificial

If you want to be mice not men, so be it. What worries me
is the virtual virus, the Web conspiracy. Net evangelists,
who have taken  over  large chunks of  the media,
education,  goverment, cafes  - everything -  make  other
fanatical religious  cults look   distinctly   amateur.
But   your metaphysical  strategy is familiar:  take an
intangible  (the  Ideas,  God,   the Internet), idolize it
and elevate  it  so that  it  overshadows and undermines
the real.  Rewriting Derrida,  the  sinister implication
of  terminal terminology  is that  'There is nothing beyond
the  Web.' Being is being on the Net.

The real has been relegated to the status of add-on, an
optional accessory. Surfing is  one of the few remaining
vestiges  of intense, uncompromising reality left. The last
time I was in Hawaii, I ran into one of the cyberspace
navvies laying down the information   superhighway   that
 runs through  Maui. He pointed out that,  even landlocked
and wave-starved  in  England you  can  now call up
'Surfnet'  on  your computer for a dose of simulated
surfing. 'But,'  he was  frank enough  to  admit, 'it'll
never  be  a  substitute  for   a spitting twelve-foot
barrel at Pipeline.'

Let's  compromise. I promise not to  lose my  cool every
time you surf the  Net on the  condition that if you slip
and press the  wrong  key you download death in  a
million-volt wipeout.


---------------------- ENDS HERE ----------------

Bill Thompson                           :    \'o.O/:
Unipalm Group, Cambridge UK             :    =(___)=
bill () unipalm co uk                      :       U           Bill says....
http://www.gold.net/lynx/biogs/bill.html     +44 (0) 1223 250100 [w] 245963[h]

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