If you’ve read Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, you will recall his admission of the real reason he uprooted his New York City family to Paris:
When people asked why Martha and I, not long after the birth of our first child, left New York for Paris, we can usually think of a lot of plausible-sounding reasons. They vary in tone from the high-mindedly agonized (we couldn’t endure the malling of our SoHo neighborhood) to the cloyingly whimsical (we wanted to live within walking distance of the Gérard Mulot bakery, on the rue de Seine). The real reason was Barney. We had seen one after another of our friends’ children — charming children of parents who parse Greek texts or write long metafictions set in the eighteenth century — sunk dumbly in front of a television set watching a man in a cheap purple dinosaur suit sing doggerel in an adenoidal voice with a chorus of overregimented eight-year-old ham actors.
In our family, the battle is not against Barney (Oliver had a brief Barney flirtation, but it passed quickly), but rather against the ubiquitous colossus that is Disney.
When we had a family meeting a few weeks ago, for example, to discuss where in the world we’d go for March school break this year — anywhere in the world — Oliver announced that he wanted to go to Disney World.
One vital front in this war against Disney is Oliver’s web browser: we’ve strategically omitted any Disney links from Oliver’s Firefox bookmarks bar, choosing instead to provide him with links to things like Croatian television shows, perhaps Disneyesque in the old country, but somehow exotic and parent-friendly over here.
Of late, however, we’d been hearing Disney sounds coming from the office while Oliver was using the computer.
We had no idea how Oliver was making his way to Disney. He can type, but not well enough to string d-i-s-n-e-y-.-c-o-m together. Was it a surreptitious link from the CBC or Danish Children’s Televsion? Secret URL crib notes kept under the desk?
We got our answer over the weekend: seeing Oliver determinedly surfing through the Disney Princess site, I asked him how he got there. So he showed me: in Firefox he selected Bookmarks and then Organize Bookmarks and then simply selected one of the several links to Disney that appeared there.
Now these aren’t bookmarks that we put there. And we’ve never showed Oliver how to use the Firefox bookmarks system. Indeed I don’t think we’ve ever discussed with him exactly what a bookmark is. It is thus a testament to Firefox’s UI and/or Oliver’s intellect (and willingness to click on absolutely anything in sight, noting what the result is) that he’s been able to make Firefox do what he wanted to do: provide him with a quick (and heretofore secret) pathway to the wonderful world of Disney.