Sunday, December 31, 2006

On the Dawn of a New Year

Now that the year is just about over, it seems like an appropriate time to look back to our recent past and laugh about how stupid we were not too long ago.

Remember in the mid-90s when the media used to refer to the internet as the "information superhighway"? Doesn't that term seem quaint today? Of course, even back then the term seemed kind of stupid, mostly because of the word "superhighway," which, as far as I can tell, was invented just so it could be a part of the term "information superhighway."

I mean, what is a "superhighway" anyway? How many lanes would a highway need to have in order to be considered super? Or maybe it's not just a matter of lanes -- maybe a superhighway would allow you to go faster than you could on a regular highway, sort of like those motorized walkways they have at a lot of airports.

I have the same question about the term "supermodel." What makes those models so super? Are there any other superprofessions, like superdoctor, supermailman, or supergymnast? If we have supermodels, it seems only fair that we should reward outstanding professionals in other fields with a similar designation.

Fortunately, the term "superhighway" never really caught on, but it does reflect the sort of naive enthusiasm the media had back when "internet" first became a household word.

Of course, what makes the term sound so quaint today is not the use of the word "superhighway," but the use of the word "information." Remember when people called the internet "the world's largest library" and things like that? Nobody does that anymore. Today we know better.

With all its emphasis on streaming and downloadable video, the internet has become more a vehicle for entertainment than for information. So even though it's still accurate to call it "the world's largest library," we could just as easily call it "the world's biggest TV station" or the "world's largest adult bookstore."

By the way, since this superhighway of ours is such a vehicle for entertainment, it ends up being a highway and a vehicle at the same time. How many other inventions can make a similar claim?

Anyway, I have nothing against entertainment, so I'm not making any judgments here. But I also have nothing against information, which is why I strive to bring you something entertaining and informative each week. And this week is no exception, although today's post is a little shorter than a lot of the others. That's because I'm busy doing other things today, so now I must go. But you can look forward to more enjoyable and educational posts by reading this superblog in the weeks and months to come.