You know it's over when ...

Things change. They'll never be the same again. I guess I knew that well before I first became enchanted with the internet which is already quite a number of years ago. What's more, a good deal of the Boidem has been devoted to chronicling the ways in which what I identified as the enchanting aspects of the internet were in retreat, while the forces of the market (or of mass culture, or of something else) were exerting more and more pressure on the net to forego its childhood dreams of a different way of communicating, of a more democratic method of access to information.

But what's that got to do with the touted contest? Ah...

Perhaps this page should be entitled: When fast info meets fast food. The photographs below are of a McDonald's restaurant in a classy mall in Ra'anana, Israel. Within the restaurant are a number of connected computers which for a small fee can be accessed. You can click a mouse with one hand while you hold your Big Mac with the other.

So? Internet cafes have been around for years. What's so interesting about an internet McDonald's? From my perspective, lots. Internet cafes are hardly a particularly engrossing phenomenon. They're out there to make a buck. But somehow they succeed in maintaining a certain detachment from the mainstream. There is, perhaps, something purposefully "high culture" about them. But an internet McDonald's? That's downright plebian.

But of course I'm in favor of the internet becoming a tool of the masses. So what am I complaining about? I think that the most distressing aspect of this is the connotations that arise from mixing fast food with fast info. Fast food is neither tasty nor nourishing. We turn to it because we don't have time for the real thing. Is that also what happens with fast information? I love the immediacy of the web. I love being able to click over to something that interests me and have it right at my fingertips. In the past I never drew a connection between the two fasts (or at least I tried not to). But an internet McDonald's seems to compel me to do so.

And thus ... the Boidem contest. For me, an internet McDonald's is a sure sign of an impending end. The mainstream will soon complete its acquisition and absorption of the internet. The end is upon us. The nails are being hammered.

And you dear reader? You are invited to send in your own epiphany of the impending end. What lit that lightbulb for you? What made you realize that it's not "the battle is over but the war goes on", but instead that the war has also been lost; that we're among the beautiful losers?

You may choose an event, a study, an article - whatever made that distressing click for you. Send your example to: even if I win the contest, I lose the war. I'm not sure about prizes yet, but I do promise that the pick of the crop will be published in these pages.

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