The last part of this NY Times article about ancient oral tradition and the current social networking models put me in mind of a short story I remember reading back in the school days. It’s called The Machine Stops and was written by EM Forster in 1909. You can find it at http://brighton.ncsa.uiuc.edu/prajlich/forster.html.
The story has stuck with me for years, and still has relevance today.
The article describes how the online social networks have a similarity to more ancient forms of tribal networks. The last part also recognises the paradox that the online connections may dilute the real world connections. In The Machine Stops, the human race has gone underground, and each one lives in their own cell. Fully connected to the rest of the world and everything can be controlled at the touch of a button. Direct interaction with another human being is just not right. All communication goes through the machine. Sound familiar?
This isn’t an uncommon kind of concept in science fiction, but when you read this text, there are some really interesting comments about the effect this has on our culture and physical evolution. A highly recommended read.
Article found via Bruno Giussani at LunchOverIP.