Sliding on Mental Ice

Similar to last year I took a rather long road trip, and as expected my impressions haven’t changed much since that earlier journey. What has changed a bit is how I view what it is I see. I’m now less concerned with the junk and the homes we build to store that stuff than I am with what seems to be an almost insurmountable gap between pre-VCR, analog world folk and fast-forward, digital world denizens. Towards the end of my work on MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach (Link) – covered yesterday in a piece on Wired (Link) – I gave a lot of thought to how I might explain to family and friends what I was doing for most of last year and how these technologies would have an impact on everyone. There wasn’t much opportunity to do that, but on one occasion in particular I knew the individual was really trying to understand what I was saying but simply couldn’t grasp all the implications. And why should anyone expect they would? How can we expect people to adopt virtual technologies when they’re still struggling with 1970’s-era technology?

On the trip out I was caught in the ice storm that hit the central plain states; and on the trip back I was caught in a small snowstorm in the hills of eastern Pennsylvania while the highway was freezing over. Despite my worn tires I got through. But there were a lot of people with newer vehicles – and doubtlessly better tires – who struggled. We were all on the same highway though, and for much of that time I was only going as fast as the slowest person on it. And so was everyone else. That has me thinking that perhaps we should resurrect the term “information superhighway”, only this time include real world analogies that capture the whole experience.