The Computer Corner

By the Editor

     When I started out on the computer it seemed like a mysterious machine indeed. In learning how to use it at a two-week computer class I found it to be very complex. When turned on it produced a fantastic outlay with a process of accessing resembling a Cretan maze and a keying system reminiscent of the Mayan Codices. My brother had installed a computer in our house but I had never used it. He was making computer programming and servicing his career. Finally I was persuaded to take the course and try it out. Now I can look back upon sixteen years of computer use and the outset of this usage seems even more mysterious from this perspective.
     It was important at that time to distinguish between a computer and the internet. A computer handled juxtapositions of data, whereas the net was a research and communications setup. I didn’t really find much use for it until people got me interested in its “creative possibilities”, and when I started Surprising Stories it was the first I had done very much with the computer except for occasionally hunting for information I found interesting. I contacted the island of Lesbos and Russia, but didn’t exchange much either way, and found there was a wall of some kind in front of Hollywood computer-wise, though I figured the younger folk there were sure to have computer pages. Instead, they had computer publicity pages, but they probably would have liked to have individual pages. At one time I was getting satellite photos of Earth via the net.
     It’s all been interesting but, as Arthur C. Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and that is certainly true of the computer, which has a reaction time in excess of the possible, and great capabilities from small components. One sees hexes being hurled on it, too, only one example of the superstitious behavior which takes place upon the net.
     You wouldn’t know net censorship goes on, but there’s a whole lot of blocking, they just aren’t censoring the things that are usually censored, or if they are they’re not very successful at it, and blocking communications is the censorship that is the most successful.
     Who knows where the internet will lead? Down the information highway, like Bill Gates says, is the only speculative answer I have seen. It certainly is outmoding a lot of things that perhaps should not be outmoded. It’s difficult at this point to see whether a computer is a bad or a good thing to have.
     Just some impressions of the computer service, a little bit of talk about it, as it were.