Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nine Years Facing the Wall

Bodhidharma, Nine Years in the Cave
This morning my attention was called to a news story entitled "Iran plans to cut itself off from the Internet permanently." The gist: A country will sever its people's ties from the outside world, replacing basic services such as search and email with its own.

Sounds crazy, right?

Bodhidharma is said to have spent nine years sitting in a cave, facing the wall, speaking to no one. For some people, he's the big legend in patriarchal zen and even martial arts circles. Other people say he never existed at all...

... and that makes some people pretty angry.

I'm told that if two people independently perform the same Google search, they may receive different results, tailored to the individual, the location, the computer being used, and so forth. The distinctions may be appreciated; after all, they're tailored to what I want to see, showing me more of what is relevant to me and less of what I don't want to see--even completely rejecting what I may find offensive (e.g., "safe search").

Of course, when the Chinese Google search for "Tienanmen Square" produced different search results than the same search in America, there was outrage. I tried it myself; there were different results...

Of course, when I performed that search as the news story suggested, I was on a computer in America. If my Internet experience was modified or "shaped" by someone else, would I recognize it?

How do you react to different things, including news stories, given what you know? How do you know what you know? Are you sure?

I came home and told my family about my tough day at work. I asked how their day went. They looked at each other and said, "Fine." We ate dinner in peace.

[The Iran story can be found here.]

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