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World-Wide-Whatever

Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 8:39 AM

There is a persistent myth going around that proposes I know anything at all about computers. The origin of this myth is probably based on my guilt by association with computers. However, unlike most such tales, it has no basis in fact. I only know something about the four programs I absolutely have to use, and only understand a fraction of what these four can do. It amazes me whenever the stuff I type into my computer appears on The Brazil Times' web site.

However, I have figured out what www means: World-Wide-Whatever.

Which leads to postulating the" "Fifth Law of Computers" -- Whatever you can think of is already on the www.

As verification of the universal applicability of this "Law", the following proof is hereby proffered - the Britannia chronicles:

On May 29, I blogged a Blog about a legacy from my father -- Sir Winston Churchill's 4-volume History of the English Speaking Peoples. These happen to be very important and interesting books; but only if you are one of the few in America who happens to think them important and interesting. I'd kept them since 1967 through all our moves, and wanted to find them a home where they'd be appreciated. I was the only one of my parent's three children who had expressed any interest in Churchill, so my mother thought I should have them. The truth probably is that my admiration was not so much for Churchill as for my father.

The same day the Blog appeared I received an e-mail from a lady in California writing on behalf of a group called Churchillians-by-the-Bay. Seems she is part of a worldwide society of admirers of Churchill who value his works. They have some kind of Internet thingee which searches every entry onto things like Blogs for new mentions of Churchill and notifies her. (Hi there, Carol! Hope you can make good use of my Dad's books).

What bewilders me is not that there is someone out there who appreciates my legacy; but that they found me almost the instant I mentioned it. Whatever you can think of is already on the www!

About 1964, in a barber shop magazine was an unforgettable science fiction article. [To put this in perspective all telephones were hard-wired to the wall, cable TV was inconceivable, and if they'd ever gotten a communications satellite to work only the Army knew it.]

Don't know why I remember this story since obviously no such thing could ever be done with the world-wide-whatever. However, as I remember the story line all the phones in the world began ringing at the same time -- but nobody was there. Then all the TV's turned to the same station (OK, there were only three stations at the time, but you get the idea).

The heart of the story, as I recall it, was that all the various components of communications had combined to form an independent "brain". The final ingredient to become a living organism was implementation of something called communication satellites. This brain was doing what infants do -- screaming and trying out its new found limbs. By the end of the story this "brain" had taken over the world and mankind was enslaved to its whims.

Of course, nothing like that could happen with the www. Whatever.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@joink.com.


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For the record, the Army bounced radio signals off of the moon in 1946, making it officially the first satellite communications transmission. Because the moon is a satellite, after all. But what do I know about such things?

-- Posted by theoneinthearmy on Thu, Jun 19, 2008, at 5:30 PM


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