Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Prescience of Sir Walter Scott

There it is, for all to see, but how many of us saw it? I mean really saw it? Sir Walter saw it.

Marmion, canto vi, verse 17:

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

The tangled web runs from under my bed and the five-drawer chest left to me by my mother, across a narrow aisle to the Queen Anne secretary she also left me. It trips me at least once a day, and it causes me to look with reverent awe at features in Architectural Digest, showing how a room--any room--ought to look.

Whenever The New York Times runs its Circuits feature, I browse with great interest at the range of gadgets and advertisements that promise an end to the tangled web, which is, of course, a sinuous, treacherous network of wires connecting computer, printer,router, modem, iPod recharger, telephone answering machine,a Maxtor external hard drive for back-up (about which more in a Moment), and for all I know, an electric can opener.

Some day, I tell myself, it will all be wireless. Even the wireless modem will be wireless, and there will be fewer things to trip on.

Some day.

Some day, also, the Carbonite back-up system will have completed its initial back-up of my hard drive, allowing me to remove aforementioned Maxtor external hard drive from its notional connection and store it in The Closet, which is to say that eclectic catch-all space wherein I contribute to the science of archaeology. Since we are on a Some-day sort of roll, some day, future archaeologists will discover The Closet and reconstruct from it what it was like to live in the twenty-first century. Surely by then my Carbonite backup will have completed its download and provided some tiny wedge into the world of bloggery (sounds almost sexual, doesn't it?), from which the bigger picture can be reconstructed.

For the nonce, it is all a tangle, every last bit of it, and as I go my way, tripping over it and cursing, and waiting for Carbonite to download (yet another word to be added to the tangle within the Oxford English Dictionary), I take fierce joy in not being a Luddite. I actually enjoy the inherent promise of gadgets. Only yesterday, I bookmarked (would Chaucer have bookmarked?) a neat little package called Coordinator, which indeed attempts some housekeeping with The Tangle.

In fact, I look to gadgets to solve societal ills the way some look to science to solve other existential problems.

Meanwhile, my mantra is: Watch out for the tangled web and keep your eye on Carbonite.

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