COM­PUTER GAMES: HOW THE IN­TER­NET IS CHANG­ING EV­ERY­THING

Tracks - - Stuff We Dig -

The in­ter­net has re­cal­i­brated mod­ern life and surf­ing, like ev­ery­thing else, has been sucked into its grav­i­ta­tional pull. It's made surf­ing eas­ier and far more in­ter­est­ing. Phys­i­cal surf checks and un­der­stand­ing syn­op­tic charts are his­tory. Surf me­dia no longer has to be pas­sively con­sumed – you can have your own say, up­load your own pho­tos, start your own revo­lu­tion. World Tour events can be watched in real time while you cri­tique the judges, bet on the re­sults and reap­praise your fan­tasy surfers. Google Earth will steer you to new waves. Last­minute will get you cheap flights. Airbnb can find you a bed in some­one's beach house. Sur­fstitch will home de­liver a steamer to­mor­row. Face­book, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram? What can't they do: ex­pand your so­cial set, pro­mote your busi­ness, make you a star, start an Arab Spring? But the in­ter­net's open por­tal is not with­out its black holes. It will hap­pily sell you ma­chine-guns, syn­thetic drugs, Ji­hadist pro­pa­ganda or Mi­ley Cyrus videos. It can be used to ha­rass the vul­ner­a­ble un­til they de­velop a gal­lop­ing neu­ro­sis. Swell fore­cast­ing adds to crowd­ing. The temp­ta­tion to post surf pics on­line can blow se­cret spots. Surf com­ment boards can be over­run by haters and snark­ers. You can get lost in a vir­tual world and wake up bleary-eyed, 52 and very alone. So­cial com­men­ta­tors fear so­cial me­dia is mak­ing us fame-ob­sessed, nar­cis­sist and tweeked out and there is ev­i­dence that surfers aren't ex­actly buck­ing that trend. Where will it all end, might be the wrong ques­tion. We seem to rid­ing an el­e­va­tor into a brave new world. There may be no stop­ping or get­ting off. Com­ing soon: Google Glass, 3D prin­ters, holo­gram surf­ing, mem­ory im­plants, im­mor­tal­ity.

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