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January 23, 2011

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Jeff Donlan

I believe the sky is falling, too, and as a librarian I regret the loss of the browsing experience. I see it as one manifestation of suburbanization now internetization—the segregation of our personal sphere such that we never have to witness anything but what we want. Like fearful rich men whose valets screen the world for them, we can have robots screen our news and shopping and have it all delivered to our door. We may be re-urbanizing in certain ways, but only as an approximation since we're all insulated by our earbuds and phones now. It's a bit frightening these days to be a cyclist and see so many drivers pass with one hand on the wheel and their eyes looking somewhere toward their laps. You know what they're doing while they should be driving. It's almost a relief to see someone who's got her phone to her ear. Anyway, it's not just the loss of serendipity in browsing but the exposure to the relentless tide of shades of gray. There ARE other ways of looking at the world than the one we seek to affirm, and I think it's good to be reminded of that, and often. The internet SEEMS like a place that would do that, but in fact it seems to exacerbate the opposite. OK, I'll stop. For now.

John F. Ptak

I like "relentless tides of shades of gray", 'cause as you say the tide is going out. I also agree about the deep personalization of more-than-everything along with the *need* for same. Given the furious pace of the attack on quiet and serendipity it won't be long before you pay to hear and see nothing at all, while the later might be available only as AI.

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