Study Guide

Raymond Williams Files

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List of Keywords I'd like to add to the 3rd edition of my magnum opus—now available on Kindle and Nook!

(BTW: I chose these because I felt their meaning had changed significantly over the years)

avatar: That used to a Hindu god, for crying out loud!

browser: People used to go into libraries and bookstores and look around. A browser wasn't a tool; it was a flesh-and-blood thinking person looking for something to read. I'm all for technology helping the people, but this seems a little ridiculous.

chat: These used to be little encounters that people had, like in a village square, or a college quad. People would look each other in the eye and exchange ideas about oppressive regimes and life in the border towns of Wales. Where did all the people go?

communities: Allow me first to quote from my own book. Here was my definition of community:

Community can be the warmly persuasive word to describe an existing set of relationships, or the warmly persuasive word to describe an alternative set of relationships. What is most important, perhaps, is that unlike all other terms of social organization (state, nation, society, etc.) it seems never to be used unfavourably, and never to be given any positive opposing or distinguishing term. (Source)

So, community has always been a big deal for me. I always had deep faith that in communities people could be their best selves. That's not what I'm seeing in online communities. (Like, what's with evil anonymous posts and cyberbullying—that's got nothing to do with community.) Some people say the Industrial Revolution ruined community—but I keep the faith. I'm all for technology empowering the people (sorry, Marshall McLuhan), but "online community" is just an oxymoron.

friends: I'm pretty sure you know where I'm gong with this one, but if you have 2,000 friends, you really don't have any at all. Eric Hobsbawm was a friend. We looked at each other, ate together, sneezed in front of each other. I don't know 1,999 other people I'd do that around. I don't even know if I know 1,999 other people.

web: I mean, what the heck happened to spiders?

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