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Re: “Schmooze Dot Com” [July 14–20]. Though my season on the Internet party circuit was (blessedly) shorter than Brendan Bernhard’s, I saw enough to realize that the “digitally empowered” are no closer to harnessing the Net’s potential than I am, not least because they brashly underestimate its populist appeal. For every overpaid “Chet” in the “elitist” dot-com “club,” there are 100 Charlie Lesters (www.137.com) creating their own Web sites for the sheer joy of freely sharing their ideas (and their vacuum-cleaner museums) with other surfers.
As for VIC, I attended just one of their events, only to be left standing, midsentence, as my two “colleagues” raced off to grab the last remaining seats in the front of the auditorium. I sat in the back, alone, left at my first opportunity and haven’t looked back since.
I wanted to thank the Weekly and Brendan Bernhard for “Schmooze Dot Com.” I am comforted that others feel that the Internet and its online community do not hold absolute sway. While I will not demean the importance of this new communication medium nor the efforts of its architects, I hold especially dear the aspects of our condition that are not “replaceable behaviors.”
As a member of the new I.T. dreamers, I am inclined to admit that Brendan Bernhard’s article “Schmooze Dot Com” is right on. The Internet industry is filled with glazy-eyed techno-geeks with decreasingly relevant connections to the real world. However, that is the U.S., where you have everything already and the Internet is more about convenience. I would like Brendan to come visit Ecuador and see what the Internet is doing to people’s lives here. Cable TV and Internet access are rapidly changing Latin American society, changing the way we think about ourselves and the world.
And it is not just in people’s homes. The plethora of Internet cafés scattered throughout the region’s smaller towns and rural areas attests to that, as do the lines of people outside the cafés waiting to get in to log on or watch some cable. The Internet is giving us the opportunity to get closer than 6,000 miles away to eclectic culture, to stop living in 1992. It’s giving us the opportunity to communicate with loved ones continents away at rates we can afford, and it’s absorbing sectors of the population that would now be unemployed. I.T. industries in Ecuador are beginning to allow people from the lower economic strata with enough initiative to study CIS at a state-sponsored school to break out of the cycle of oppression. Suddenly their skills are in demand, regardless of class or racial origin.
What can I say? I came here as a tourist, and the Internet got me to stay. I now have a small design and programming firm employing 12 people, and the future looks very positive for continued growth in the foreign market. And when I feel cut off from the world, I just download KCRW and the L.A. Weekly site off the Web, and suddenly I’m connected to what’s going on in L.A. again.
Re: the Internet story. What’s this guy talking about? I don’t get it. He went to a bunch of parties, and he’s complaining? Maybe he could switch jobs with me next time. He could go ride a motorbike through the streets of L.A., and I get to go to parties at Skybar and the Playboy Mansion, and write about it. Where’s Hunter S. Thompson when you need him?
Reading the Weekly has always raised emotions at my house. As a baby boomer, I’ve always run with my Gen-X brother to the store or the computer to review the latest edition. Usually my brother is touting an article, and I’m mumbling about how biased the political articles are and how unsettling it is to see all those ads. Yet we fight over the issue to read all the terrific articles.
However, this week just put me over the edge! On one page was Robert Lloyd’s terrific article on my favorite author and mentor, Carolyn See. It was my pleasure to study and work with Carolyn at Loyola Marymount University, and Mr. Lloyd captured her spirit and conveyed the honesty and realism in her work. I was beginning to feel really good about your paper. Then, I scrolled down to look at a few more articles. There was a vague title regarding George Bush. Thought maybe your newspaper was on a roll and would give your readers the whole story, for a change. WRONG!!! â