Caught in the Web

$80 or $90 for a modem is how it starts. But then you discover the site where you can download pictures from the Hubble telescope, or the nude picture of the month, or the program that lets you view the earth from the moon exactly as it will appear on any date from 10,000 BC to 500,000 AD; so you have to buy a bigger hard drive. Soon that's not enough, and you need a tape backup. You find that you're spending several hours a day using Netscape, to the point where you forget to watch David Letterman. But that's O.K.! You can download the Top Ten List, and save it digitally to read later. You discover the site that has every useless font known to mankind, and you save them all, just in case you ever want to do something in Kablooey Bold Italic.

You download CU-SeeMe , so you can see what's going on with the space shuttle, or what the office of someone you don't even know at Carnagie Mellon University looks like right now. Soon you need a camera, so you can show the person you don't even know at Carnagie Mellon University what your office looks like right now.

Then you notice the pages with sound files; you're missing something! It's not the same experience everyone else is having if you can't hear Donna in Nashville say "Hi! Glad you could visit!" at the top of her home page. Sound card and speakers, to go with the video card and camera, and by now, as long as you've spent that much, you might as well get a really fast modem to make it all work properly...

You tell yourself that you can stop any time you want. But before you realise, it's too late. You've been caught in the web. "Let me check on that coffee-pot in Cambridge one more time, and then I'll log off. Honest."

© 1995 by Alan R. Turner.
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