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Subject: everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal ( 1 of 14 )
Posted by Bystander

I have just enjoyed reading the Sunday Times article “How to stop worrying and learn to love the internet…” also as it happened I heard the “start the week” a couple of years?! ago whilst driving to work a couple of months ago!?
Up until recently John Humphrys was still doing his comical “forward slash … dot … dot … com dot co uk – I’m sure you people know what that means” routine at the end of his URLs. You can sort of understand it – an old school Radio 4 presenter reduced to reading out semaphore. Having said this he does seem to have moderated the facetious tone recently – perhaps he read the article!
I totally agree with the article. More and more so recently I find myself shouting in anger at yet another internet skeptic whose opinions I normally respect floundering about in the lee of the tidal wave of progress that is about to inexorably engulf them. Metaphors aside - for those of who over-use the internet on a daily basis it is becoming as “common as chairs”.
Where as in the past, requests to define it were enthusiastically met with descriptions such as “It’s like a magazine article you can click on”, and so forth. These days I wouldn’t bother comparing it to anything “It is what it is”. It’s not television and it’s not printed. It’s the exoteric output of the masses - yuck.
Anyway - I am particularly interested in the “Grammar is just a natural function of children’s brains, and they apply it to whatever they find” bit. Can anybody elucidate this – perhaps I am being confused by the context of grammar here – do we swap “structure” for “grammar” or maybe “syntax”?
The liminal Internet is starting to take shape, formed by the honing erosive waves of daily use. We all know our favorite search engines. We all know not to click on the banner add that tempts us to be sidetracked by catching the mouse. How to get out of a frame within a frame. What a sidebar is for and how to find out if something is a link. We know the difference between a site a page and a server yet would find it hard to explain these terms without ambiguity. They say that now something like 90% of Internet traffic passes through less than 1% of sites.
Is this distillation process similar to the application of grammar to whatever an infant finds. Do they do this? The notion is compelling – is it the same thing?

As an aside my all-time favorite banner add was one which involved an animated progress bar on a dialog which claimed it was about to search my hard-drive for unregistered programs with a cancel button at the bottom.
As a second aside can anybody clarify this? What is the past tense of learn? “Learnt” or “learned”. Common usage has it as “At school I learned to write”, but this sounds wrong. The same with earned. Though I will admit “back then I burnt my bra” has a different meaning to “back then I burned my bra”.


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