As a result of the need for instantaneous responses, particularly because of the
speed implied by the telephone, telex, fax, electronic signals and so on, the future
increasingly appears to dissolve into an extended present.
John Urry, Sociology Beyond Societies
And far too many suffer from chronic image flicker, a synchronic experience of
reality as images rich in details, not as lines across time, causal chains, reasoning.
One needs both, but the way it is today, the ability to think is slowly killed, to
the advantage of the ability to see and hear, taste and feel - a orgy of the senses
that gives little space for intellectuality.
Johan Gaining, Johan uten land (my translation)
As I sat by my desk in relative peace and quiet a fine spring morning some years ago I was interrupted by three simultaneous and identical e-mails marked with red tags ('Priority: High!'), followed by a physical visit by the secretary, who actually walked around in the corridor, knocking doors and warning the occupants of imminent danger. After we got e-mail in the early 1990s, we hardly saw the secretary any more, and so we immediately understood that the situation had to be very serious.
Now, the reason for this unusual and dramatic behaviour was neither a fire on the first floor, a general strike, an attempted coup d'etat by the military or even a spontaneous wave of suicides among university employees protesting against the decay of our institution, but a small computer program that had settled on many of our hard disks. A virus! The virus program had arrived as an attachment to an e-mail entitled TLOVEYOU', which contained an imploring request for the recipient to open the attached 'love letter from me to you'. If one did — and many did, understandably, given that they had been promised an unconditional declaration of love — a malign virus would begin deleting files, messing up data and then proceed to move on to other innocent computers via the victim's electronic address list. A