[EAS]Re: Internet Evaders

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Apr 25 08:30:00 EDT 2003

        Reply to:   RE>Internet Evaders

Re. the recent mailing on Internet Evaders, a sage response from my
friend and colleague,  Dr. R. Rodion Rathbone, doctor and engineer,
in Yale's Department of Laboratory Medicine, with his permission. 

Date: 4/24/03 9:44 AM
To: pjk
From: R. Rodion Rathbone

I remember a short New Yorker "Talk of the Town" piece describing a
TV commercial.  Some children bring a glass of "Country Time"
lemonade to  a grandfather figure, one of the-old-ones.  On tasting
it his memory is rekindled and he feels nostalgia.  This is what
lemonade used to taste like, back in the lost days.  But wait, the
piece went on, there are lemons in the kitchen.  We could actually
... yes ... make real lemonade!  The art is not lost after all!

For some reason the piece stuck in my mind.

For the past 10 to 50 years, depending what you're thinking of,
there has been a growing market for serviceable and convenient
simulations --  from Tang and coffee creamer to video games.  The
aspects of the substitutes that fall short are usually in the areas
of completeness and depth.  The real thing is as deep as it is. 
The simulation is as deep as it has to be, and when they get to be
good on the surface, they fail when you scratch beneath that
surface.  There's little monetary return for simulating  the deeper

That's one of the dividing points between simulated and engineered
artifacts. In a well engineered artifact, as opposed to a well
simulated one, there is a pay-off in engineering esthetic for
carrying through on the deeper levels.  When sitting in a new
automobile, it's very satisfying turn and find something exactly
where you'd like it to be (Honda comes to mind.) When taking apart a
computer, Compaq for instance, it's so nice when you find that
things click and fold and slide in a smooth and convenient  way, so
it comes apart, re-configures and goes back together, not just
quickly, but with smooth ease and almost a kind of rhythm.  As with
music, one is discovering someone else's intelligence, and it's a
deeply affirming pleasure.

That pleasure is a strong force, both for achievement and for
maintaining the finer parts of the mundane things in our culture. 
It's what gives me some confidence that the chaff, noise and glitz
will not overwhelm the things that satisfy, though they usually
threaten to do so.

The Internet evaders, too, are a source of confidence.  I think of
them more as Internet abstainers, though.  More of them will come to
use it, when they find it good enough, satisfying enough, for their
needs. That unsatisfied market, whether it is skeptical or just has
fewer things motivating it, is what may make things a little better
for us all in the long run.


> Date: 4/24/03 2:25 AM
> From: pjk
> Subject:   Internet Evaders
> (from NewsScan Daily, 17 April 2003)
> A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that
> 42 %  of American adults are not connected to the Internet, even
> though two out of three of those people have relatives or close
> friends who do. In addition, the study's authors label as "Net
> Evaders" 20% of the nonusers who live in Internet-connected homes
> where other relatives go online. And then there's a category of
> "Net Dropouts" to characterize the 17% of nonusers who tried the
> Net and didn't like it. The director of the Pew  project says of the
> Net Dropouts: "Some grew disillusioned with the online  world. They
> decided it was just a time swamp, or they never found what they 
> wanted." [They have our full sympathies. If the poor wretches never
> found  NewsScan, who can blame them for jumping ship?] (New York
> Times 17 Apr 2003)
> http://partners.nytimes.com/2003/04/17/technology/circuits/17shun.html
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
> Internet "evaders" -- my foot. In a world of fast pace and
> techno-determinism, the most radical act of all might be this: to
> slow down and to try, in each moment, to be fully present in your
> surroundings -- especially outdoors. --PJK
> "Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.
> Wherever you are is called Here...
> Stand still. The forest knows where you are.
> You must let it find you."
>     Native American poem translated by David Wagoner
>     (quoted in David Whyte's book "The Heart Aroused: Poetry and
>      the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America", and other 
>      soul-endangering places.)
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