For a society becoming devoid of truth and meaning, the New Web of MySpace, Second Life, YouTube, is perfect. Totally on-line lives, where the meaning is found in how many other on-line lives link to yours. Devoid of content past what CD you like, or which on-line video you watch, hours each day are taken from students' time to click and link, click and link, to as many other click and link sites they can find.
Sadly, critical knowledge of the world, the war, the forthcoming end of oil and the upcoming water crisis, is gone. Science has become a debate based on religious bias. Connecting with an author, a book, a well-thought out product of mind, is disappearing. What Peter Hirshberg calls companionship-light is replacing any friendships of deep meaning and trust.
The gurus of the current age gathering in Aspen, or at the Wall Street Journal "D: All Things Digital" Conferences, wane broadly about the coming New Web, connecting and enabling the whole world, in a great mass of energy. They'll overlook the 90 percent of web time that produces nothing. Like the cell phone, a $40 billion dollar technology which allows users to ask whether to buy the baloney or the hot dogs when in the grocery store, the New Web is taking the same route.
Museums are based on actual objects, things made by humans, used with meaning. The New Web generation does not value actual objects. And meaning is a term redefined into how many new friends, new links, your myspace site has gained.
Museums are in trouble. This trouble is a reflection of the huge problem our society is facing. That third and fourth world countries see the meaninglessness of our society and have attacked it to protect themselves is not part of the national discussion. That citizens in the US have turned to myth and religious beliefs to try and find protection from the current meaninglessness is very much part of our politics.
I must state I love the World Wide Web. I've been honored to work with many of the web pioneers. And I value good search engines more each day. But there is a cold truth - on-line reality is what some powers want. Not as a mix, but as the rest of your day. What collections of real objects do to compete is truthfully unclear. I think that deeper content does work. Staying to the basic task is important for all of us that take facts seriously and have deep real human connections, and not many.
12 September 2006; Updated, 02 April 2010