My Italian Adventure
Perhaps you heard me on Italian TV yesterday, although I doubt it. The producer of the show said that it’s the “Nightline” of Italian TV, on RAI, the national network. When he called at 6:30AM, he said that they were doing a show on the ceremonies marking the removal of the debris that was once the World Trade Center and they wanted someone to comment on the role the Internet played on 9/11. This is something I’d talked about on U.S. National Public Radio. “Sure,” I said.
“I’ll ask you about how the Internet allowed the world to tell itself its stories,” the producer said.
“Excellent,” I replied with the confidence of someone about to make a fool of himself.
So, a few minutes before air time, the phone rang and the translator introduced herself. “The first question,” she said, “will begin with the host saying that the events of 9/11 have changed the world and affected each of us. In such a time, we think about what it means to live in a world together. We’re talking with David Weinberger, an American philosopher and writer” – Danger! Danger! – “Tell me, Dr. Weinberger, about your reaction to the ceremony and what we learn from 9/11. What are our feelings?”
“I didn’t see the ceremony. I’m an Internet guy. You don’t want to ask me that question,” I replied. Worse, from the question, it seemed I was the first guest. Why would they put the Internet guy on first to provide a general, non-Net comment about 9/11? Thank goodness I had had a chance to warn them off that question!
Seconds later, the interpreter asked me the first on-air question. Except for taking out the part about the ceremony, it was exactly the same. With dead air looming, I tried to come up with an answer to “What do we learn from 9/11? What are our feelings?”
I felt the weight of my country’s honor descend on me. Speaking for all Americans, nay, for all sentient creatures in the universe, I babbled about being sad. And then I forgot that I was required by international treaty to close by saying something uplifting about courage and instead blurted out: “And fear. For all of our economic wealth and all of our science, there is no protection.”
Undoubtedly sensing that he had a guest who too thick even to get the platitudes right, the host asked a question about the role of the Internet in the new world. “Connections,” I said, wiping frothy spittle from my lips, “The children are connected. Connections. Hope. Children. Links. The connectedness of connection. For the children. Connectannectannectannecta…” The show switched to a commercial, an act of desperation since I think RAI doesn’t run commercials.
Look for my upcoming appearance on the Bulgarian version of 60 Minutes explaining the meaning of life, what Angelina Jolie sees in Billy Bob Thornton and exactly how Nancy Reagan feels about her Ronnie. For I am: The Internet Guy
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