March 15, 2014
Web Inventor Surprised By Kitten Fascination
The man who invented the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has stated that one of the things that surprises him most about the way in which his creation has come to be used is the prevalence of cat based material.
Asked by a questioner during a Q&A session with Reddit, “What was one of the things you never thought the Internet would be used for, but has actually become one of the main reasons people use the Internet?” Berners-Lee replied in one word, “Kittens.”
CNET also did their own extensive interview with the man, who is surprisingly much less of a household name than he might be, considering the contribution he has made to the development of human civilization.
One of the things he talked about was a subject which regularly comes up in my blogs and other discussions about technology on redOrbit: the balance between the huge benefits of technological development and the maintenance of more natural, long standing human behavior. When asked:
“The Internet has enabled this very global, social world we live in. It’s now trivially easy to keep in touch with your college roommates. Do you think humans are geared for this global-scale society, or are we wired for the village scale so that this is going to bite us in the butt?”
“What I think we are wired for is fresh air and green. We need to be in nature. We maintain our friendships through a screen where before we would have gone for a walk through a field with the person next to us. I think we are universally wired to need to see green stuff, to be in green space, to be in the open, and see the sun. We have to make sure technology doesn’t drive that out.”
It appears, then, that he doesn’t really share my view that people talk too much about the specter of all-consuming technology that will swamp us, and is indeed concerned that we lose as much as we gain. This is the same view taken by ever more popular comedian Louis CK, who drew attention with his rant against cell phones on Conan.
A lot of what he said was opposing the idea of young kids having smartphones, and I can see the argument for this more so. But for adults, I think we are capable of realizing what amount of anything is or is not good for us, and can adjust accordingly. And if we are not, then taking our smartphones off us will only lead to other similarly frivolous uses of time. Personally, living thousands of miles from most of my friends and family, technology is a godsend.
As for kitten viewing, I take a similar view. If people want to look at cute pictures of kittens and funny pictures of cats then be my guest. I’m sure most of them spend other parts of their day doing perfectly noble things, and if they don’t then only giving them the complete works of Sir Francis Bacon for entertainment is probably not going to lead to anything more than a pile of unread Francis Bacon books.
More often than not, taking a position opposing supposedly unhealthy or vacuous habits is done not really out of genuine concern for other people’s well being, but purely so we can feel superior about the fact that we have pinpointed the problem with what they so blindly and stupidly carry on with.
Image Credit: Thinkstock