Thursday, April 10, 2008

Geoff Ryman's Air

In Srinivasan's article "Return to Babel: Emergent diversity, digital resources, and local knowledge", Srinivasan mentions the use of the internet to connect people of the diaspora and reconnect them with their history and culture even without an actual place to connect to. This reminded me a lot of Geoff Ryman's novel "Air: Or, Have Not Have". In this novel, the protagonist tries to get a rural town to catch up with technology before the world-wide release of new information technology called Air which is automatically connected to everyone's brain. The technology is in the air itself, like having the internet in one's brain all the time. It automatically connects to everyone. The problem is getting accustomed to such technology when one has not been exposed to even the internet. Therefore the results of a trial test of Air are devastating, resulting in a death in the village. The protagonist then makes it her mission to bring her village back up to date with the rest of the world. One way she does this is by selling homemade goods on the internet, connecting the rest of the world with the authentic, culturally important craftswork that her area is known for. Another way is recording history through the internet, getting the word out to even people who are not connected to that area and do not have that history but by learning about it, will help those in need. Srinivasan actually mentions this several times in his articles with the studies on bringing people on the Native American reservations together through technology, using technology to bring back the past and bring back culture.

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