Sunday, November 22, 2009

Old and Obsolete

"The four stages of man are infancy, childhood, adolescence, and obsolescence."
~ Art Linkletter

It's been a while since I last posted here, but the big silence is over. To kick things off, I'm pointing you toward some wry observations about age and obsolescence made by a couple of very clever people.

The Web of Language is a blog written by Dennis Baron, a professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Although I only came across the blog recently, it has quickly become a favorite. Example A of why I'm a devotee is a post entitled, "The internet is making old people irrelevant, warns MIT computer guru."

Professor Baron quotes MIT Software Engineer Philip Greenspun, who said, "An old person will know more than a young person, but can any person, young or old, know as much as Google and Wikipedia? Why would a young person ask an elder the answer to a fact question that can be solved authoritatively in 10 seconds with a Web search?"

In a brief, extremely witty analysis of Greenspun's "logic," Professor Baron draws everyone from Al Gore to Socrates and everything from the Titanic to elephants into his argument. He ultimately concludes that being irrelevant frees him up to do "other important stuff, like spending lots more time online looking for the meaning of life and what comes next, assuming there's free wi-fi at the coffee shop."

Professor Baron's article brought to mind a similarly smart and downright hilarious monologue by Craig Ferguson that explains, once and for all, why everything is so screwed up. (Hint: it's related to the "the deification of imbecility.") Don't miss it!