the VIRTUAL billionaires

Would anyone, even as late as 1990, have dreamed that the internet would spawn ‘virtual’ businesses that would eventually make billions for their owners? Peddling sites whose content was a combination of sound, text & images?…where the other senses by which we also live and experience the world, namely smell, touch & taste are ‘virtually’ absent?…where the tangible has no currency?
Larry Page & Sergei Brin of Google are worth billions based on the ‘virtual’ world, but most would agree that this wealth, according to free market principles, is not ‘virtual’ but real.

As it is, these nouveau riche, virtual players have capitalized on our obsession with recording, documenting, communicating & sharing all sorts of trivia with like-minded folks. Putting this obsession between us & real flesh-and-blood people whom we may never have met is a triumph for these new buccaneers. We communicate through multimedia, and place less and less importance on meeting & talking in person, where the power of language, replete with gesture, is at its zenith. ‘Live’ in the conventional sense is now replaced with ‘simultaneous’ experience in cyberspace, which creates the illusion of participation. The media have taken over any experience we may have had on the street, on a human scale. The internet makes everything global, immediate & impersonal, though confessing & sharing the private in public makes it all seem as though we’re interacting on a personal level. We have communities communicating all the time,  but without any commitment or empathy. Even social concern borders on the abstract. The Net’s real power is speed in communicating data/information in times of crisis in a way that mobilizes certain resources. But what about all the other serious shortcomings that matter to individuals, or even living communities & entire societies?


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