AMBASSADOR'S BLOG - CYBERPUNKS AND THE MATRIX: ONLINE KYIV OFFLINE

Kyiv
26.11.10




Science fiction has a fine record of guessing the future; but no-one saw the Internet coming.  Honourable mention should be made of the excellent works of William Gibson, credited with inventing the term cyberspace.  Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer, which includes references to something called the Matrix, made a big impression on me.  So did the follow-up, Count Zero – how, in 1986, could I not be grabbed by a book whose blurb begins: “Turner, corporate mercenary, wakes in a reconstructed body, a beautiful woman by his side”?  But the fact that most sci-fi missed it is a reminder that no-one can be quite sure what the future of the Internet holds.  

So I’m intrigued when the British Council and its Polish, Austrian and Dutch counterparts, working with a cool Ukrainian partner, put together an international workshop for online platforms on arts and culture to explore the issues arising from an earlier event, What’s Eating Online Journalism?   At an event to launch the workshop the predominantly young and lively guests from the UK, Poland, Serbia, Germany, Russia and Ukraine create an instant buzz of excitement.  Several of those attending are themselves bloggers (check eg http://www.nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.com by the UK’s Owen Hatherley).  The gathering of online experts offline at the residence demonstrates for certain one thing: when people meet to communicate in the flesh a terrific amount of information can be exchanged in a comparatively short space of time.   Perhaps one can even argue that without offline, online doesn’t have much point.  I hope so, anyhow.

For lovers of the English language, incidentally, the way the expression “offline” has crept into everyday use, eg people at a meeting saying “let’s talk about that offline”, is yet another reminder of how the language keeps developing

 

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: http://blogs.fco.gov/roller/turner 



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