I am more than the sum of my Web parts

22 04 2010

My grandmother was a nurse for over 50 years, treating thousands of patients.  My paternal grandfather spent years as a ranch foreman in Porterville, making sure that the orange groves turned out juicy, delicious fruit.

And yet, neither one of them are on the Web.

Tim Berners-Lee said, “If it isn’t on the Web, it doesn’t exist.”  Well, I don’t buy it.

Berners-Lee equates physical existence with a presence on the World Wide Web.  But in reality, the only reason most of us are there is because someone took the time to upload a document concerning us.

I spent the better part of a year serving on a committee overseeing $326 million in bond money for my community college district.  However, the lag time between meetings and the actual published records for those meetings was about six months.  Does that mean the meetings didn’t exist?

Uh uh.  Not even close.

As I was surfing the news sites today, I discovered a small news item about the O.K. Corral shooting–you know, the famous shootout with the Earps vs. the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton.

They found the original notes from the coroner’s inquest that hadn’t been seen in 50 years.  It’s a great historical find.  Denise Lundin, Cochise County’s chief court clerk, said the documents are “just beautiful.”

However, the documents aren’t on the Web.

The Web is not the Alpha and Omega of human existence.  We are beings of thought and action, perfectly capable of operating without being plugged into the electronic ether.  We utilize tools like the Web to make our lives easier.

The Web is a tribute to our ingenuity.  It doesn’t define us.  And the Web can’t move heaters into an orange grove when the temperature drops to freezing.

But Jack could.  And he did.  Without any assistance from Berners-Lee whatsoever.




One response

17 05 2010

You are a great writer. I enjoy your posts.

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