October 23, 2009

The Incredible Unbelievable Internet

Since I don’t work outside my home and spend hours in solitude writing I like to hang out online sometimes to have someone to talk to. In the beginning I mostly went to writing group sites and also a baby boomer women’s group until someone so nicely informed me I wasn’t old enough to be there. lol I felt like a carded teenager trying to buy beer.

The writer’s sites were intelligent people with calm conversations mainly consisting of their latest novel and while I love to read books having a discussion with an author about their latest project can be (how do I put this without offending anyone?) as stimulating as listening to a mother tell about her child’s latest accomplishments. I’m proud your kid is on the honor roll, truly I am but we all know it’s much more exciting for the parent than for anyone else.

One day at a conference a few years a go another member gave a workshop on web pages and how publishers like you to have one etc. etc. She showed us MySpace, which prior to that day I thought was only a teenager's hangout, and said it was a good way to meet other writers, publishers and readers. Keeping a blog was also supposed to help keep the writing juices flowing. So I thought, what do I have to lose and went home and created my own time waster, I mean web page.

They’ve made it so easy to put up a site even I can do it. You don’t have to have any talent, just point and click, copy and paste and voila, you have a page.

One of my biggest concerns and the reason for this long-winded missive is due to the fact that it amazes me the amount of people that thinks everything on the internet is fact. I see time and time again people giving a website as verification to back up their statement and the information is no more accurate than the Tower of Pisa is plumb.

It’s scary that our younger generation hardly cracks a book and gets all of their knowledge online and yet a lot of what’s out there is crap. Anyone can make a page on the world wide web and write anything they want and it doesn’t have to be facts.

I got into a debate with a man over the issue that colleges won’t allow Wikipedia as a source of research material for term papers. He honestly thinks it’s a place to get solid information and got quite pissed about it. He even went so far as to say he wouldn’t allow his kids to attend a college that didn’t allow it. Which of course only made him sound like a fool. Many people aren’t aware that anyone can go in and change information on that site. Most of what’s on there is fairly accurate but I have found a few discrepancies myself. I’m not advising anyone to not read it but do double check the material before accepting it as gospel.

Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true. A non-fiction book has to double-check its resources because they can be sued if they print inaccurate information. I hear of pending litigations all the time. That’s why many authors won’t even touch non-fiction because you have to be exact in your writing; there can be no errors. The trouble with the internet was in the past it was difficult and sometimes impossible to find the creator. That has changed. With the threat of terrorism and child pornography the authorities have gotten better at finding people.

In the beginning the internet was kind of like the old west when outlaws ran rampant and people said and did whatever felt good not caring what happened to anyone that got in their way. Eventually things were cleaned up, sort of, and people could live peacefully knowing the sheriff was just down the road.

Recently I read about a lawsuit because a woman wrote an unflattering opinion of another individual. YouTube was sued for showing patented movies and music.

Yes, my friends law has come to cyber space and it’s just a matter of time before they clean up this one horse town.

Elton John- One Horse Town:

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