2006-12-21

"You": Time kopiert die Person des Jahres

--- Die Netzkünstlerin Olia Lialina hat mal ein bisschen in den Time-Archiven gewühlt und ist dabei auf eine bezeichnende Parallele gestoßen: Das zur "Person des Jahres" gekürte "You" in Form des aktiven Internet-Nutzers ist für sie die gleiche Figur, die das US-Magazin noch sehr skeptisch, distanziert und passiv 1983 unter der Überschrift "Der Computer macht sich breit" vor die damals ausgezeichnete "Maschine des Jahres" setzte. Eine gephotoshopte Zusammenschau der beiden Cover gibts hier. Olia schreibt dazu auf der Mailingliste nettime:
Though people in my blogosphere (Livejournal) are proudly making pictures of their reflection on the aluminum foil on Time's cover and celebrate Time's arrogant gesture as a recognition of modern online culture and their modest input to it, I can't get rid of the thought that with "You" Time address one particular person, a papier-man they left in front of a personal computer a quarter of a century ago.
Immerhin wusste Time damals schon von so abgefahrenen Sachen wie E-Mail und Internet zu berichten: By itself, the personal computer is a machine with formidable capabilities for tabulating, modeling or recording. Those capabilities can be multiplied almost indefinitely by plugging it into a network of other computers. This is generally done by attaching a desktop model to a telephone line (two-way cables and earth satellites are coming increasingly into use). One can then dial an electronic data base, which not only provides all manner of information but also collects and transmits messages: electronic mail. The 1,450 data bases that now exist in the U.S. range from general information services like the Source, a Reader's Digest subsidiary in McLean, Va., which can provide stock prices, airline schedules or movie reviews, to more specialized services like the American Medical Association's AMA/NET, to real esoterica like the Hughes Rotary Rig Report. Fees vary from $300 an hour to less than $10.

Dass gerade kreative Heimarbeiter den PC gern nutzen, war auch schon bekannt: Just as the term personal computer can apply to both a home machine and an office machine (and indeed blurs the distinction between the two places) many of the first enthusiastic users of these devices have been people who do much of their work at home: doctors, lawyers, small businessmen, writers, engineers. Such people also have special needs for the networks of specialized data.

Personal bzw. Rapid Fabrication oder Manufacturing spukte ebenfalls schon durch die Gegend: Because a computerized robot is so easy to reprogram, some experts foresee drastic changes in the way manufacturing work is done: toward customization, away from assembly-line standards. When the citizen of tomorrow wants a new suit, one futurist scenario suggests, his personal computer will take his measurements and pass them on to a robot that will cut his choice of cloth with a laser beam and provide him with a perfectly tailored garment. In the home too, computer enthusiasts delight in imagining machines performing the domestic chores.

Und noch ein hübsches Zitat: Says Atari's chief scientist, Alan Kay: "Software is getting to be embarrassing."

Diese Passage geht zudem schon in die Richtung des aktuellen "You": But the essential element in this sense of inevitability is the way in which the young take to computers: not as just another obligation imposed by adult society but as a game, a pleasure, a tool, a system that fits naturally into their lives. Unlike anyone over 40, these children have grown up witl TV screens; the computer is a screen that responds to them, hooked to a machine that can be programmed to respond the way they want it to. That is power.

Natürlich dürfen auch die Warner in der Computerwüste nicht fehlen: Weizenbaum's basic objection to the computer enthusiasts is that they have no sense of limits. Says he: "The assertion that all human knowledge is encodable in streams of zeros and ones—philosophically, that's very hard to swallow. In effect, the whole world is made to seem computable. This generates a kind of tunnel vision, where the only problems that seem legitimate are problems that can be put on a computer. There is a whole world of real problems, of human problems, which is essentially ignored." Allzuviel scheint sich also gar nicht geändert zu haben.

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