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This article is taken from PN Review 130, Volume 26 Number 2, November - December 1999.

Scotland and the World Edwin Morgan

One of the lords of the internet in America, Nicholas Negroponte, has been quoted recently as saying: 'Ten to twenty years from now, kids won't care much about countries.' The internet is almost science fiction. If you ask what it is, or where it is, you will get an answer, but the answer may not be very satisfying or even very clear. But of course it is not science fiction; it is very real, and millions join it every month. It is truly a world-wide web, and because it is interactive anyone in one country can tap or click into anyone from another country without, perhaps, and I emphasize perhaps, knowing or caring very much about geographical or cultural identity. One can wander into the world wide web rather as a poet would wander into a wood in some medieval romance, in search of nothing more specific than adventures, surprises, novelties, the unknown and the strange. It is a perfect escapist toy as well as a sophisticated tool for extracting information. But is Negroponte right? Does it blank out countries? A few weeks ago I had a phone call from California, from the Jay Leno Tonight Show, saying that they had come across my name on the internet as a Scottish poet, and thought they might like to have me on their show. Did I have a video of myself, talking about my life and reading a few poems, which I could send? I didn't, but knowing that Americans ...


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