A funny thing happened on the way to the forum
Time travel is a funny old thing. At one point in time - ho ho - we thought it wouldn't be possible, not ever, not in a million years. We joked about it, we made fun of it, we used it in bad movies starring Jean Claude Van Damme.
But here it is, alive and kicking. For years now we've been able to go to places of historical importance to see the events that made them important in the first place; yes, the upshot is that we all went to Golgotha and crucified Jesus ourselves. Yes, it's a sad fact that a tourist operative killed Kennedy. But let's forget these unhappy details and move on, further, faster, towards the next magnificent improvement in our universe.
Bottom line: we've wired the past up to the Internet.
It was a brave experiment, I'm sure you'll agree, but it seems to have worked. Although many cultures through history seemed reluctant to accept computers, let alone broadband network access - the Catholic Church seemed particularly reluctant, the silly old sods - others took to it like a duck to water.
Forgetting the Romans, who are doing a roaring trade in child pornography (most embarrassing), and who darken the forums with constant "LOL OMG!!!" posts and demands for "A/S/L?", I was personally excited to see that Fermat is into Netris. Additionally, Benjamin Franklin, to the delight of privacy advocates everywhere, is experimenting with his public key. (He's also a keen weblogger; the Guardian is already hailing him as a god.)
There have, of course, been a number of close calls - Guy Fawkes' discovery of a recipe for making atom bombs ranks as perhaps the most interesting, flanked only by Paul Revere's attempt to spam the declaration of independence to everyone on ICQ - but these are to be expected with any new technology. They will all be dealt with, and thank God we have Microsoft on board to take care of any technological glitches! (They assure us that the 1920s stock market will not crash again - although it's too late for Karl Marx, who reportedly has switched to Debian.)
The Web is, granted, a little more confusing now that all times are one and the time is any. But we feel that the improvement in information retrieval - and may we say, surveillance - is more than worth the state of mindless incomprehension. And after all, it's still better than gopher.
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