Monday, October 09, 2006

I guess this means I'm an addict

I just found a fun game to play: If you had to choose between the internet and another modern invention, and the thing you didn't choose would never have been invented, what inventions would win out over the internet?

For example, in the choice between the internet and modern plumbing, I think I'd still go for the internet. I can pee in a hole. But if it came to the internet or antibiotics, I'd have to choose antibiotics, since without them half of us would be dead, and it's hard to use the internet if you are dead.

It turns out there are very few things I would choose over the internet, and it gets even harder to think of any if I extend it to computers in general.

What inventions/discoveries do you treasure enough to uninvent the internet (or computers?!) for?

14 Comments:

kermitthefrog said...

Between the internet/computers and refrigeration, I'd probably keep the latter.

How about internet vs. air travel?

Lucy said...

You mean there are uses of computers without the internet? :)

I would have to agree with you on the plumbing. Nobody can tell you smell on the internet, either.

I'm having trouble thinking of anything now that you've taken antibiotics.
Maybe aeroplanes, or movies. Either more real life or less...

RandomGuy said...

condoms

StyleyGeek said...

I'd rather have internet than refrigeration or movies, but air travel is a tough one. I think I'd still maybe go for internet, but my life wouldn't be so international anymore.

StyleyGeek said...

Oh, condoms. Good point.

I think anything that actually saves a large number of lives is going to beat the internet.

Jana said...

Styley - I don't think antibiotics count. They were invented in the first half of the last century, so they're not really modern at all.

So you can keep the internet!

grace said...

Modern plumbing is not really modern -- the ancient Romans had remarkably sophisticated plumbing. They also had condoms, although they weren't latex.

I think there's perhaps an interesting point here about "discovery" versus "invention". Antibiotics are naturally-occuring agents that we have found a very specific use for. Much the same goes for electricity -- we only invented ways of generating and reticulating it.

StyleyGeek said...

Bah! You picky people are ruining my game :)

We could change the rules so that the invention/discovery/improvement doesn't have to be modern.

Or if you like, you can imagine that the internet is a naturally occuring substance that we have just found a use for :)

Carine said...

if it does not need to be a modern invention I'd go for the printing press (-;

grace said...

I think the point I was fumbling for is that the internet is a totally contingent invention -- it wasn't invented as the solution to a particular problem, the way say microwave ovens were developed to heat food. The internet's sprung up unexpectedly from a group of other inventions, and we're still finding out all the things we can use it for. The only other recent invention that can compare (that I can think of, anyway) is television.

StyleyGeek said...

I think you're quite right, Grace. But it makes the game difficult :)

Jana said...

... particularly since microwave ovens were developed incidentally during the search for the perfect magnetron : http://www.gallawa.com/microtech/history.html


You really are going to kill me for being picky, now.

grace said...

Jana, my point was not so much about how microwave ovens were invented (many inventions arise serendipitously), but more about how the internet is so malleable and multifunctional. In allowing us to send data down a phone line, the internet has revolutionised not only communication, but also commerce, media, ideas of community, political organisation, access to information, publishing...and no doubt other things we haven't thought of yet.

grace said...

Sorry, Styley. :-)