Hallo again to all.
We often use this space to write about the ways in which global communication makes the world smaller and brings people closer together. The phrases seem benign and pastoral, intrinsically a good idea. But if you bring too many people together into too small a space, history shows us that they more frequently fight with one another and act farther and farther away from the Garden of Eden.
One can talk poetically about bringing people together, but also about the wide open spaces and the empty countryside. Sailors love the solitude of the open sea. Farmers enjoy the tranquillity of the farm. We saw a sign recently that said 'Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and you can get rid of him for an entire weekend'. The quality of life seems, on average, to be higher in places that have fewer people in them. This is, in a nutshell, the dilemma of civilisation.
Computer-mediated communication between people seems to be a nice compromise. Getting to know people from what they have written is not a new phenomenon: if you read enough of the works of Charles Dickens or P D James, you begin to feel as if you know them. But that's just one-way communication; you don't have the satisfaction of watching them get to know you. This online world brings us a pleasant Anglican-like via media, in which we can come to know one another without suffering some of the consequences of too many people in too small a space.
But it's not perfect. There's been a minor tumult in certain corners of the internet because someone posing as an Anglican priest has been distributing online anti-Jewish screeds. Cowards can use the anonymity to their own advantage, and there's not a lot we can do about it.
In thinking about questions of knowledge and anonymity, we realised that, in general, we've no idea who you are. From time to time some of you write to usmostly in pleasure rather than irritation, thank goodness!but most of you read without writing. So we thought we'd ask you to tell us who or what you are, in a very general sort of way. If you have a moment, do fill out our little survey to help us get a better sense of who might be our neighbours in this online world. We will keep the details entirely private, but will report back to you the broad outline of what we discover, so you'll have a better idea of who else round the communion stops by here. Any questions about this? Let us know. (Wondering who we are? See our page here.)
And see you next week.
Last updated: 2 June 2002