Back in 1995, when I was madly collecting web resources for the second edition of my book, The Internet Directory (by the way, don’t buy it unless you are an Internet historian), I kept coming across people’s personal jounals. I read all kinds of stuff that to me seemed incredibly inappropriate to be made public for the whole world to see. I just couldn’t imagine why people would want to divulge their private lives in such a fashion, and I assumed it was just a modern form of hubris. So I decided that these Web sites wouldn’t be included in the book, it just wasn’t interesting enough for my readers (I thought), and besides there were so many of them, they would just be taking up space.
As of today, technorati is “watching” 6,481,744 weblogs. It appears that I was wrong. Public journaling turns out to be one of the webs killer-apps.
When I told a friend that I had started a blog, she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, no! your not going to be another blogger!” This is a fascinating sentiment. Since the very begining of the web, people have put their jounals on-line, but blogging as it has now developed is something altogether different. It’s more accurate to view it as a collective journal of humanity. Most of our individual journal entries are mundane and quite boring, even for ourselves to go back and look at (like this one!) but some entries, get at a bigger truth of our lives and reflect the greater experience of what it is to be human, and so it is with blogs. Taken as a whole, they provide something quite similar.
A few days ago I stopped at a gas station. As I was pumping, I noticed a vole scurrying across the parking lot. The lot was covered with a thin layer of that dry compacted, dirty snow that you get when it’s been cold enough that the snow never melted or turned ice. The vole would zip along for about six feet, and then try to burrow under a clump of snow, only to hit pavement so it would zip another few feet and try again. It had come from behind the gas station where there is a field, and it was headed in the direction of a very busy road. This vole was in for trouble and I’d better do something about it. I was half way through pumping so I finished filling my tank and then turned to see what I could do for the creature.
By the time I’d spotted it again, it was about twenty feet from the road. I headed not towards the vole, but at an angle that would cut it off from the road so I could shoo it back to the field. But it must have know that I was trying to prevent it from moving towards its intended direction because it immediately headed for the road at a modified angle calculated precisely to avoid me.
Within seconds the vole was in the middle of the road. The first semi missed it by five feet. The next one flattened it.
I don’t know if the vole would have gone on to the road had I not tried to save it, probably it would have. But I do know that if I had stopped pumping gas right when I realized that this vole was in for trouble, that I would have had a much better chance of saving it.
I hate pumping gas. Every time I do it, I feel like I’m that vole flinging myself and my fellow humans as fast as possible right toward those tractor-trailer truck wheels. The vole’s consciousness doesn’t even include roads and trucks, but unlike the vole, I know about peak-oil, and global warming. I can see the truck coming. But why didn’t I stop pumping for that vole? Why don’t I stop pumping for all us? How conscious can I become?