[EAS]Who's your Advisor?

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sun Jul 15 04:19:47 EDT 2001

Subject:   Who's your Advisor?

A very funny NYT story by Michael Lewis about Marcus, a 'legal
expert' on the Internet -- at age 15.


Underneath that is a more thought-provoking stratum about the role
and substance of giving and taking advice, belief and reason, and
the (in)stability of perceptions, of oneself and others. If you don't
have time to read Sherry Turkle's "Life on the Screen: Identity in
the Age of the Internet" (Simon & Schuster, 1995), this story about
Marcus Arnold can prompt such reflections:

> ... he was the kind of person high school is designed to suppress,
> and ... he had refused to accept his assigned status. When the real
> world failed to diagnose his talents, he went looking for a second
> opinion. The Internet offered him as many opinions as he needed to
> find one he liked. It created the opportunity for new sorts of
> self-perceptions, which then took on a reality all their own. 
> There was something else familiar about the game Marcus was playing,
> but it took me a while to put my finger on it. He was using the
> Internet the way adults often use their pasts. The passage of time
> allows older people to remember who they were as they would like to
> have been. Young people do not enjoy access to that particular
> escape route from their selves -- their pasts are still
> unpleasantly present -- and so they tend to turn the other way and
> imagine themselves into some future adult world. The sentiment that
> powers their fantasies goes by different names -- hope, ambition,
> idealism -- but at bottom it is nostalgia. Nostalgia for the
> future. These days nostalgia for the future is a lot more
> fashionable than the traditional kind.

By the way, the <http://www.askme.com/> Website that provided the
context for the above, is not the only one. E.g. there is
<http://www.keen.com/> where you can buy and sell advice.


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