Re: WWW representation of Real World? (I hope not)

From: Sabine Stoeckel (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 18:08:56 MST

Dear Amara,

I`m very sorry that you want to take a break from the WWW.
I`m aware of the fact that as soon as you have your own website - and
as soon as it is reachable by the search engines this part of your
life becomes public. As for my website, the first (and so far only!)
entry in my guestbook was by a guy offering adult photos. Still,
I think, it`s important to stay involved with the WWW in order to make
a difference, to change something. Sure, the first reaction on
disappointing experiences is usually to back off. I`m convinced that
you thought about turning your back on the WWW very long and that this
decision wasn`t easy to make for you. Maybe your expectations were too
great in a way. I think especially people like us (extropians) have to
learn to deal with ignorance and misunderstanding. But if we want to
stay only with the audience of which we know that it will appreciate
us in the way we expect it - well, then we will never make any
I remember a quote by Epictetus: What disturbs people`s minds is not
events but their judgements on events. So, don`t think of your
experiences with the WWW as something that brings you down. The value
of the WWW rises with the value of the contributions we make to it.
And your contribution was very valuable.

With respect and best regards,

Amara Graps wrote:
> Dear Extropes,
> I am wondering how representative is the World Wide Web of what
> exists in the Real World? Do you think that the way that people
> behave in that medium is representative of their behavior in real
> life? I have participated in that "experiment" for the last 5 years
> by providing a large Web site with very valuable content (so I was
> told), and after these years, it's time for me to take a break from
> the Web for a while. I'm really cynical and jaded and disappointed
> in what I've learned about people who use the Web, so it's time to
> stop, and be "empty", in that Zen way. I reached a kind of
> saturation point, I think.
> Today, I wiped my Web site clean. All 25 Mb and 300+ files. I didn't
> give notice or put forwards on any of my pages, and I know that a
> few thousand people today (and every day for a while) may be a
> little bit unhappy.
> One of my largest disappointments with the Web, was that folks who
> visited and wrote me often didn't connect that there is a real live
> human being, with a real life on the other side of those pages. They
> seldom were considerate or courteous. Since 90% of the folks that
> wrote me, wanted me to do something for them (help them with their
> homework, help them with their research project, give them other
> information, etc.), I would say that at least half didn't bother to
> address me by my name (those of you who saw my site know that my
> name was everywhere), or sign their own name, or even say "please".
> Many people also mistakenly thought that, because my Web pages were
> there for their use, that _I_ was a free resource for them too. One
> (college-age, I would say) person who wrote me a couple of years
> ago, bluntly told me: "You should add compression links to your
> wavelet pages". When I wrote him back and said that "if he pays me a
> lot of money, I will consider it", he sent me an indignant letter
> telling me how rude I was! I've also faced strangers calling me, or
> showing up at my door with their questions that they wanted me to
> answer. I know that the proper response is: "My hourly fee is
> $XMegaBucks", perhaps we can discuss it then", but I was so
> surprised by their actions that I became flustered and annoyed, and
> I didn't think of a good response fast enough. I never thought that
> folks would have that audacity, yet they did.
> Even when I made it quite clear in several texts at my site that I
> didn't have the "resources" (time, money, my old repetitive strain
> injury limited my computer usage, etc.), I still received alot of
> queries for my help. I suppose that those folks were in too much of
> a rush to read that, or to care.
> Last year I put notice on some of my more active pages that I needed
> donations to help me with costs, since I am living on a student
> stipend, and it was difficult to maintain the pages. Out of the
> 100,000 or so visits since I added my notice, only 6 people have
> donated money (none from any of the very wealthy corporations that I
> know use my site). While I am very appreciative of those 6 people's
> donations, something seemed really wrong with this.
> Since I considered my Web pages the "shape" I gave myself in the
> World Wide Web, I always wondered what was "enough" information to
> give for my purposes, and what was "too much". The phrase "the map
> is not the territory" seems particularly apt. I encountered some
> situations where some people figured that they "knew" Amara enough
> from my pages, and didn't need to ask me questions and learn in real
> life, who Amara was, and they proceeded to judge and criticize.
> In my opinion, those actions were laziness or fear-based, but those
> actions caused me quite a bit of grief, anyway. So I caution folks
> about how many "pointers" to give about oneself on their Web pages.
> And if you are as "open" as I am, then maybe the World Wide Web is
> the wrong forum, or maybe you should just provide a minimal
> information.
> I have to say that I really like how the Web enables people to meet
> each other from far-away places, but I also wonder if this extra
> media layer promotes a less-than-honest representation of oneself. I
> confess that I have a soft spot for bright, interesting people, who
> are offering me interesting conversational topics, stories, poetry,
> gifts...:-) , if I have the time, or I'm in town, etc. in order to
> read their messages, but I've encountered more than my share of
> people (OK, men), who don't describe who they are accurately, or who
> are unable to state what they want and need, even when I ask direct
> questions (and I am very direct). Several times I found myself in
> pretty painful situations because of that dishonesty. (Sometimes, I
> think that I'm too naive for the Web, or maybe even for the real
> world. That's why astronomy is a good field for me :-))
> So while I hear about all of you transhumans "moving on up" and
> getting your positions and places visible on the World Wide Web,
> here is one jaded extrope who is "moving on out" and taking a break
> from the Web for a while.
> Amara
> ********************************************************************
> Amara Graps email:
> Computational Physics vita: finger
> Multiplex Answers
> ********************************************************************
> "If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into
> you." - -Nietzsche

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