I tried to follow the election on the net: it seemed a fair test to sit in front of the television with a laptop and a glass of scotch to see which medium gave the greatest insight
I tried to follow the election on the net: it seemed a fair test to sit in front of the television with a laptop and a glass of scotch to see which medium gave the greatest insight. I had expected a fierce contest between the two screens for second place, but in the event the television walked it. The Daily Telegraph site was impossible to get into; the FT was constantly hours out of date — though it did have some very entertaining nuggets in the news stories that were running — and the GE 97 site, of which I had had high hopes, had crashed altogether. This is the sort of thing that Comrade Stalin had in mind when he warned the party against dizziness due to success.
By the weekend, however, the FT site at least had recovered completely, and was offering a very useful candidate search: if you could remember the name of an MP, but not his constituency (and "Bottomley" is much more memorable than "Worthing") this was a lot simpler than working through fifty or so constituencies — or sending an unwanted postcard of condolence.
Once you have spent a while online you come to believe that any idiot can get connected, seeing as how every idiot has. But smart people are another matter. I have been trying to get my eighty-year-old widowed mother onto the net for the last six months. She speaks six or seven languages, which turns out to be a drawback when dealing with Windows 95. A menu, to her, is something that a waiter brings: a dialogue box is a mystery into which conversations disappear. The syntactic sloppiness of computers — where several different actions all mean exactly the same thing — confuses her; and the maddeningly incompetent robot helpers in Microsoft’s Office 97 confuse her still further.
Last autumn, when I first conceived this plan, a friend who knows about such things advised me to put her on MSN because, he said, it had lots of spare capacity. This was about four months before the whole system stopped handling email for 36 hours because of overload.
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