|A Memory for Mankind - Editorial License
by Ernest Lilley - Editor, SFRevu
I've been told that the web isolates us, depriving us of social contact, and there's no doubt about it, it does...but that's only a half truth at best. By the way, you can chalk another one up for SF as a predictor of the impact of technology if you read Isaac Asimov's Naked Sun which takes place on a world where everyone visits by holographic projection and abhors the thought of actually being in the same space. Jehosaphat! I knew this all seemed familiar.
The other, and I think larger, truth is that the web connects us. Email connects us in a way I prefer far more than mere phone conversations, which are all too ephemeral for me anyway. I have more friends and closer family relations than time and distance could possibly allow without email and web space.
But the web has another function, and one even more important in the long run.
The web is the collective memory of mankind, and whom the web remembers is remembered for all time. As time goes by, our ability to access the web will become better and better, and it will become second nature to think of it as a collective memory bank for everyone. I expect to see direct neural interfaces in my lifetime, allowing me to call up web images and data indistinguishably from memory...though probably more reliably, but in the meantime I use a variety of desktop and handheld devices to do the same thing. Living in virtual space doesn't require a jack in the back of your head...just imagination inside it.
In a crude way today, but with increasing fidelity as time passes, the web holds onto our virtual image. A few pictures of us here and there, some news postings, a webpage. All of it adds up to bits of our essence, and in time we will become emortal through it.
Wait a minute, you cry, a web image isn't us...we're us.
I suspect that to a very large degree, it comes down to continuity of conciousness and a distinction of deep philosophical import and no utility.
SFRevu's mission is to promote SF, to do what we can to nurture both the medium and the community of people around it. We'd rather do that through the celebration of people and works while they live, but when a friend dies we'll take the time and space to remember them as well.
Such a friend worth remembering was Jenna Felice, the youngest Tor editor ever crowned and someone instrumental in bringing some of the best recent Tor offerings to print, including Sean McMullen's Greatwinter Series.
© 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu