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AOL/Time Warner

A kind reader informed me that among the minor hiccups of the past two weeks was included at least one at a nuclear power plant. However, it was in a non-essential system, so I don't feel too much as if we narrowly avoided catastrophe.

The major news this week is the AOL/Time Warner merger, of course, and the surprising (at least to me) fact that AOL comes out on top when the percentages shake out.

Things that come to mind when I think of AOL: CDs in mailbox, the sensation of rolling my eyes, endless free hours (who would want them?), spam, pathetic.

Things that come to mind when I think of Time Warner: vast, behemoth, Lovecraftian tentacled monstrosity, evil.

So yeah, I'm a bit surprised by this match-up, and not at all keen on the idea. I do think that the people calling this the darkest day for the Internet, ever, and saying that this makes Microsoft look feeble and unthreatening in comparison, are overreacting just a bit. This is not going to suddenly stifle every last avenue of intellectual freedom and result in a society entirely devoid of imagination and interesting entertainment products. We may very well continue the current slide in that direction, but this isn't going to put the nail in our collective mental coffins by any means. We've still got a chance.

On the other hand, I have to admit that I do get a bit depressed in my sporadic observations of the corporate world. It seems likely these days that the future is not going to look like Star Trek, where there is no evidence that anyone has an economy, anywhere, or like Star Wars, where there is obviously trade or you couldn't have smugglers, but it's an excitingly dangerous, individual-oriented kind of trade, or even like Snow Crash, where vast expanses of franchise mediocrity are bordered by much more interesting places.

Nope. If we keep going at this rate, the future is going to look like Joan Vinge's Psion books, where it can be seriously posited that corporations are the new dominant life form, and the individual human being is as evolutionarily obsolete as algae.

Then again, never say never; it might not be too late. Maybe if we all work really hard, we can get Snow Crash instead.

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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson