Some people think the web makes the world bigger. I say, it makes it smaller. Some people say the web makes us neighbors with people in Kenya or the Ukraine. I say it makes us better neighbors with the family next door.
There was a time in United States history when newspapers served as a centralizing force for drawing communities together -- and then came television, and cable, and satellite -- all the forces that did nothing to humanize communication, but made mass communication more mass and less personal. (Radio is a mixed bag. For every WBTA there are 10 radio stations programmed by a computer in Texas, Nevada or Pennsylvania.)
The Internet brings back the possibility of human-sized communication.
At a time when too many glass-eyed Americans turn to network TV for their "Heroes" and get "Lost" in the idea that last night's episode of whatever flimflam Hollywood is dishing out this season is worthy of deep discussion, the Web opens up new possibilities for people, local people, people who share a common interest in a common community, to partake in conversation and pursue change with conviction.
If I might share a bit of personal biography: In 1995, I started a web site in eastern San Diego County called East County Online. At the time, I would tell any number of colleagues in the newspaper business: "Mark my words, the web is the best thing that ever happened to local news; all the fascination now is with global communication, but eventually, people will look homeward and want to use the web to build better communities."
I've never stopped believing that. I believe it to this day.
I've learned a lot about the Internet and how people use it since 1995, but the philosophy remains the same: Together, we can use digital communication to build better, stronger, more self-reliant communities.
That's what I want The Batavian to do for Genesee County. And maybe, along the way, we can convince a few people to turn off the TV once or twice a week and visit a local art gallery, spend an evening with the Batavia Players, or "root,root, root for the home team."