I missed my wife when she went away to her college reunion. I spent a lot of time wandering around the house, bumping into things, looking for things to do, and when televised sports finally wore out their appeal, I turned to the next logical outlet: Al Gore's Internet. I sat on the couch with my laptop next to me, and each time something occurred to me as a "Hey, I wonder what happened to," or "What is up with that?" I typed and clicked and found a wellspring of infotainment that I knew existed but rarely fully accessed.
That's because I live in a world with precious little time to devote to surfing the web. When I turn on my computer, it is usually with intent, and that intent is usually business related. I teach technology to five year olds, so finding a web site that delivers content and fun for them is an exciting find. Okay, "exciting" may be overstating, but gratifying nonetheless. Then, if there's time, I check my email and hope that someone has sent me a link to a cat video or an offer to help some poor Nigerian Prince. The idea that I might hop from page to page, looking for connections to bits and pieces of my fragmented memory and imagination doesn't figure into my daily routine. This is a good thing, since the world wide web has only become more and more dense since we got our first AOL account so many years ago. And I mean that in as many ways as "dense" as the word will allow. Back in those days, I used to have a bit that I would do when watching the coming attractions at our local movie theater. I would insist loudly that I would only buy a ticket for a movie if it had its own web site. That was funny, twenty years ago.
Now everyone and everything has a web site. I could not begin to see the entirety of what the web has to offer in just the few days that my wife was gone. Unless I lived in North Korea. Earlier this week, someone in Pyongyang's IT department messed up and dropped the veil on that republic's Internet. There were only twenty-eight domains listed. Of course, just as soon as the door was cracked open, it was nailed shut again, so the half hour I might have afforded myself getting to know the length and breadth of North Korea's Internet will have to be put on hold. But it did make me think: I'll bet those North Koreans get so much more done without all that unfettered pointing and clicking.
What a relief.