Back from Spring Break, from a whole week spent away from computers (ok, except for a brief internet log-on in a hotel) - someone organized a shutdown day on the 24th, but I've gotta say, a shutdown week is even better!
I don't have internet access at home - I have to use bits of spare time while using the equipment at my work. For that reason, I'll probably only be able to post about once a week in the future, now that I've put up most of the stuff I had previously written.
So far I'm glad not to have the internet at home, because I already feel dependent enough on it as it is. And I don't ever want to lose sight of the fact that the "democratizing" internet is still a privilege only available to people who have the resources it requires: the democratizing effects of this medium are only available to a small portion of the world's population. But among those, it seems too easy to fall into the same trap set by every technology: the attitude (often unconscious) that those of us who use this technology are the people that matter, and those who don't are irrelevant. Think of phones (not even cell phones): tell me with a straight face that you won't instinctively flinch somehow if someone tells you they don't even have an old-fashioned rotary phone in their house: what's wrong with them?
Think of cars: you may know someone who doesn't have their own and who relies on others for transportation. If so, you probably have sensed the embarrassment that surrounds such a situation, whether felt by the person who doesn't have a car (what's wrong with them?) or those who have to be bothered to shuttle them around.
Technology is never neutral. A tool might be "neutral" in that it could conceivably be used in any number of ways, but the overwhelming pattern in human history is that tools are used not as tools but as technologies: instead of a tool being wielded by humans in human/humanistic/humane systems, the technology shapes or creates the new system that the flesh-and-blood humans are expected, if not compelled, to adapt themselves to.