Adventures on the Information Red Clay Road: Getting Wired Cheap

Back in September of 1994 I spoke at a conference called Access in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Access is a yearly conference of people at the intersection of librarianship and nerdity.

My talk was called Adventures on the Information Red Clay Road: Getting Wired Cheap and, thanks to Art Rhyno, I’ve got a copy of it here.

Reading that talk for the first time in 8 years was quite interesting. So much has changed since then — paying for things online is trivial now, and we use graphical web browsers to surf what we hadn’t yet then come to call “the web” — and yet so much is the same — issues of information control, who owns the wires, and what we use this great web for. My favourite quote from the talk is:

The sad thing is that now CFCY Radio plays the greatest hits of the 70s, 80s and 90s and might as well be in Red Deer, Alberta as in Charlottetown, and IslandTel is just another boring Stentor lump owned by BCE. The telephone operators are gone and the hits just keep on coming and what we thought, 50 years ago, were going to be the tools that were going change the very fabric of our society have, I think, come up short.

Plans are shaping up for Access 2002,being held in Windsor, Ontario. I’m giving the closing talk, tentatively titled The Information Red Clay Road Revisited, part of a series called Are We There Yet? Reflections on the Trip So Far. Access brings together an interesting group of people and if your passions lie in the world of information and knowledge and how we apply technology to sift through it, you would not do wrong to attend.


Ann's picture
Ann on June 24, 2002 - 14:44

Interesting discussion this morning on This Morning about the number of people who are logging off…canceling their home internet accounts because they can’t see the point and can’t justify the cost. May add fuel to your fire, or something.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on June 25, 2002 - 14:45

If it was not for P2P file sharing and IRC I would not use the internet as much as I do. Surfing for information has become a lost cause almost. Aside from all the pop ups and porn, the internet is a great tool.

Years ago I wrote people asking for regulations be made on the world wide web that would make any web site that deals with porn to be on a .xxx or .prn suffix, and we could simple block cretin suffixes within or browser, that never happened, but should.

stephen's picture
stephen on June 26, 2002 - 04:44

The Internet is great for a lot of things that were and would be a pain without it — faq’s, movie times and locations, no longer having to play phone tag to figure out how to meet up with someone else, getting forms from the government, being able to track down people you’ve lost contact with and pieces of information that you only remember a tiny bit of. but unless something happens the Internet will collapse not under its own weight but under its own deadwood — forgotten websites, files that no longer get updated, the junk in the attic that never gets put out in a yard sale. I think the Internet will split into two — the wild and crazy anarchic Internet we know and love/hate and a M-F, 9-5 Internet that will be owned and controlled by organizations in both the public and private sector. To be part of that Internet you will have to promise not to sell porn or cubic zirconium (zirconia?) and that you will maintain a useful and well-maintained website. There needn’t be anything Big Brother-ish about it, it will be the difference between the world of Time-Newsweek-The Economist and the world of xeroxed, print-run of 15 pamphlets. The info may still be free in that Internet but the bar may be raised too high for private individuals to get in — show us that you have a million records of worthwhile information and the server to handle the traffic and we’ll let you in. It won’t kill the Internet — the Internet already has tons of information on it that you can only get by subscription and that doesn’t seem to have hurt it one bit. The Internet is maturing and institutionalizing — sure, there will be the gray-haired ponytail version of the Internet but there will also be an Internet that is as reliable and informative (yes, and dull) as the phone book and the dictionary. just a thought.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 26, 2002 - 04:45

It’s important to note that ‘stephen’ (above) is the guy to graciously read the poem that appears at the head of the piece.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on June 26, 2002 - 14:57

I don’t understand how some one could go buy a new computer today at Future Shop and connect to the internet for the first time and not me lost. Back in 1995 when I fight connect via ISN dialup the internet was clean and simple, I had no problem catching on. Spam? what? who?

Today you have pop up after pop up, old information that has been outdated for years and porn banner after porn banner. You do a google search for something simple and get pages and pages of results. I think this is why people are logging off the internet, and something needs to be done, fast!

Jevon's picture
Jevon on June 26, 2002 - 15:12

Well, all of China still needs to come online. So who cares if a few North Americans decide it’s not quite as fun to have the internet anymore. ;) There are a lot more people out there who will be facinated by The Internut.

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