The final frontier, as Kirk's Star Trek opening narration used to say. Well it isn't. The war over space going on at the moment is a battle for hearts and minds over cyber-space. And it's fascinating.
On the last Thursday of every month (yesterday) I have a quiet day in the company of a few, usually older, people. Average age yesterday was about 65 I'd guess. In the evening I have the town's Christian 18-25s round for a meal.
The day-time group got talking about their suspicion about the internet, reluctance to own music that wasn't somehow holdable in a box or sleeve, inability to conceive owning a book without owning paper and basically all the hang-ups you would expect from a generation who grew up before the information technology explosion. The language they were using was about exploration, 'I couldn't go there.' They made the world I'm blogging in now sound like a jungle full of scary creatures (hmm, good point).
The evening group have grown up with access to computers as a right not a privilege, use texts and mobiles to communicate all the time, get suspicious if someone hasn't updated their Facebook status for a while and find out if everything is OK, and so on. They have found a new space and gone in there fearlessly. Poisonous snakes? We'll see.
Hasn't it always been the case? It is the young and fit (with some exceptions) who explore, climb mountains, navigate river sources and go to the Moon. Part of being young is having less knowledge of risk and therefore being more interested in the exploration than the possible consequences. Some find out how fast you can drive round a corner safely by killing themselves, which is sad but will probably always be true for a few.
In the new digital world some may have their identities stolen or drop their e-readers in the swimming pool. By that process (of error and trial) devices will be made waterproof, shockproof and DNA protected (or something better).
Anyone can go on safari now. It's safe. We get the jabs. We have a guide. We can photograph lions. Only because some people were sick, lost and eaten. The unlucky got all three.
Cyberspace. It's just space. You can keep things there, own things there, explore things there. It's getting safer and safer. Come on in. Meanwhile the savvy are thinking, acting and working digitally and only making hard copy available if absolutely necessary.
(This essay will be available in paper form if I hear about demand.)