Howard writes, “Online communication forms are tools that are well-suited to
some tasks… and not well-suited to other.” Again, a good and necessary
distinction. But now comes the hard part. How do we divide between the
appropriate tasks and the less appropriate ones? The distinction I would
draw (an admittedly fuzzy one, but it may serve as a starting point), would
distinguish between the transmission of data and the transmission of
experience. As long as we’re (generally speaking) exchanging ideas,
thoughts, facts, etc., we’re tapping into the best of what the new
technology has to offer (though even here I have my second thoughts.) When
we privilege the mediated worlds made possible by the computer too much (an
easy thing to do in a culture already soaked in simulations), when we
elevate the status of simulacra while demoting real life to the acronym
“RL,” we’re heading down the wrong path.

Return to the Dialog