July 15, 2005

"Think of the Internet as a Highway."

"THERE IT IS AGAIN. Some clueless fool talking about the "Information Superhighway." They don't know didley about the net. It's nothing like a superhighway. That's a rotten metaphor. Suppose the metaphor ran in the other direction. Suppose the highways were like the net:

A highway hundreds of lanes wide. Most with pitfalls for potholes.

Privately operated bridges and overpasses.

No highway patrol. A couple of rent-a-cops on bicycles with broken whistles. 500 member vigilante posses with nuclear weapons.

A minimum of 237 on ramps at every intersection.

No signs. Wanna get to Ensenada? Holler out the window at a passing truck to ask directions.

Ad hoc traffic laws. Some lanes would vote to make use by a single-occupant- vehicle a capital offense on Monday through Friday between 7:00 and 9:00. Other lanes would just shoot you without a trial for talking on a car phone.

AOL would be a giant diesel-smoking bus with hundreds of ebola victims on board throwing dead wombats and rotten cabbage at the other cars, most of which have been assembled at home from kits. Some are built around 2.5 horsepower lawnmower engines with a top speed of nine miles an hour. Others burn nitroglycerin and idle at 120.

No license plates. World War II bomber nose art instead. Terrifying paintings of huge teeth or vampire eagles.

Bumper mounted machine guns. Flip somebody the finger on this highway and get a white phosphorus grenade up your tailpipe.

Flatbed trucks cruise around with anti-aircraft missile batteries to shoot down the traffic helicopter. Little kids on tricycles with squirt-guns filled with hydrochloric acid switch lanes without warning.


Now that's the way to run an Interstate Highway system."

(From my clipfile. Author Unknown)

Posted by Vanderleun at July 15, 2005 9:30 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The Internet is the Information Everglades -- a bewildering network of channels, sloughs, bogs, islands, dead ends, open spaces, and undergrowth that contains a varied mix of edible, predatory, beautiful, loathsome, benign, and toxic beings, all under no central direction.

Posted by: Axel Kassel at July 15, 2005 2:25 PM

Jeez Louise! That is, in its inimitable way, a FAN-tastic description of the Internet. Information Highway, my *ss! Godzilla made of montages!

Now, move aside, I gotta take my blower-mounted pogostick with chrome-reversed muffler-bearings and zproing outta here. CUL-

Posted by: Carridine at July 15, 2005 7:44 PM

Maybe the guy was thinking of the Long Island Expressway during rush hour, or the Southern State Parkway with or without the toll booths. I can get a worm or a virus from another continent in seconds without leaving the room. I have found some good stuff at sites like this on the off ramps. Hmmm, I dunno, that highway thingy may hold up.

Posted by: Dennis at July 15, 2005 10:18 PM

Not sure of the origin of this description, but the opening paragraph is eerily similar to Randy's dinner table musings in "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. And the rest of it squares almost exactly with the novel's view of the Net, too.

Posted by: The Unbeliever at July 18, 2005 3:02 PM

If the Internet is a highway, then you have to get off, move at least three miles from the interchange, walk into some obscure eatery, and hope your immune system can handle the strain. In exchange, you get the wisdom of your countermate, perhaps a recipe. Those who benefit from the Internet the most are users who forsee the unforseen. Like Socrates, they know they don't know everything, and they have an ability to sift value out of volume. It takes work. It takes some belief.

Posted by: Elliot Essman at July 19, 2005 6:30 AM