Reading this reminds me how flipping awesome Douglas Adams was and how incredibly tragic it is that he’s not here with us any more, guiding us like a storytelling shaman, through this crazy mixed up world we call home.
This piece first appeared in the News Review section of The Sunday Times on August 29th 1999.
A couple of years or so ago I was a guest on Start The Week, and I was authoritatively informed by a very distinguished journalist that the whole Internet thing was just a silly fad like ham radio in the fifties, and that if I thought any different I was really a bit naÃ¯ve. It is a very British trait â€“ natural, perhaps, for a country which has lost an empire and found Mr Blobby â€“ to be so suspicious of change.
But the change is real. I donâ€™t think anybody would argue now that the Internet isnâ€™t becoming a major factor in our lives. However, itâ€™s very new to us. Newsreaders still feel it is worth a special and rather worrying mention if, for instance, a crime was planned by people â€˜over the Internet.â€™ They donâ€™t bother to mention when criminals use the telephone or the M4, or discuss their dastardly plans â€˜over a cup of tea,â€™ though each of these was new and controversial in their day.
Then thereâ€™s the peculiar way in which certain BBC presenters and journalists (yes, Humphrys Snr., Iâ€™m looking at you) pronounce internet addresses. It goes â€˜www DOT â€¦ bbc DOTâ€¦ co DOTâ€¦ uk SLASHâ€¦ today SLASHâ€¦â€™ etc., and carries the implication that they have no idea what any of this new-fangled stuff is about, but that you lot out there will probably know what it means.
I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this: