05 March 2007

The web does us no good

(copy of a letter)

I am fairly sure that however much attention we may seem to get on the internet, it will never do us any good. It is one of those semi-permeable membranes that can never be broken through. We are just seen to be a different sort of being from socially recognised Professors with academic status and salary. At any rate, it has never yet done us any good.

People have come to work here (a few people — not enough, even if they had all stayed) only as a result of seeing my books on library shelves alongside books by the likes of Richard Dawkins, who have the salary and social status of which we have been deprived. The only advantage I can see in our somewhat enlarged presence on the internet is that, if and when we manage to get one of our books (distress flares) onto a library shelf, some people may be familiar enough with my name to borrow it, hence reducing the likelihood that the library in question will quickly relegate it to the cellar or the scrapheap.

The article on lucid dreaming on Wikipedia is very low-grade, so that the association with that subject seems likely to do us harm rather than good. I have never yet been able to obtain academic status and funding to do the research that I saw, myself, as arising out of my initial demonstration that there was, in fact, a potential field of research.

One thing that makes me fairly sure that the internet is unlikely ever to do us any good is that people have always been keen on encouraging us to use it as a means of ‘publication’, getting people to pay for downloading, etc. I have always worried about anything other people encouraged me to do, and been pretty sure that what they most violently opposed was probably the right course to pursue.