December 3, 2008
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker is thinking about trying out the new-fangled Web 2.0 social networking Web site known as Twitter. It's a novel means of instantly communicating with a circle of friends and colleagues 24/7, rather like iChat but "broadcast" to a potentially wide audience. Like me, Parker is highly skeptical about flooding our finite brain capacity with trivial noise about what people we know (more or less) are doing or thinking at any given moment. (As if I didn't have enough distractions from e-mail and phone calls already!) Nevertheless, she does try to look at some of the possible benefits, such as joint brainstorming sessions, or just "marketing" oneself.
I may break down and try being "hyper-connected" one of these days, but here's another reason to hesitate: What are the consequences of millions of people melding their minds together in real time, so that everyone forgets whose idea is whose, and one's very conscious identity is blurred until no distinctiveness is left? It would be almost ... like ... The Borg, in Star Trek (Next Generation). Yikes!