The Little Glass Dot

Several people have requested the text for the little poem I recited toward the end of my Library of Congress presentation on YouTube.  It is based on the famous words of Carl Sagan reflecting on an image of earth taken from a distance by Voyager 1 in 1990.  In that image the earth is so far away that it appears as no more than a “pale blue dot.” 

Pale Blue Dot 

Sagan writes:

… consider again that dot …

That’s here.

That’s home.

That’s us.

On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you have ever heard of, everyone who has lived out their lives … everybod …

The pale blue dot … the only home, we’ve ever known.

 

As I was preparing the talk about YouTube I became increasingly overwhelmed by the true significance of the webcam.  It sat so humbly on top of my computer screen, a little glass dot, and yet it means so much:

webcam

the little glass dot …

it too may not seem of any particular interest …

but consider again that dot …

That’s there.

That’s somewhere else.

That’s everybody.

On the other side of that little glass dot is everyone you love,

everyone you know,

everyone you have ever heard of,

everyone who is living out their lives that has access to the internet,

billions of potential viewers,

and your future self among them.

Some have called it both the biggest and the smallest stage,

the most public space in the world, from the privacy of our own homes.

It has been used for many things …

a political soapbox, a comedian’s stage, a religious pulpit, a teacher’s podium,

or just a way to reach out

to a next door neighbor or across the world

to people we love, people we want to love, or people we don’t even know …

to share something deep, or something trivial,

something serious, or something funny,

to strive for fame, or to simply connect …

it can be many things …

but it cannot be just one thing …

… and it cannot be only what you want it to be …

… it is not just what you make of it … it is what we make of it …

the little glass dot

the eyes of the world

Wesch

Associate professor of cultural anthropology. Ed Traceur. Hacker. Car-free.

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10 Responses

  1. adam says:

    That’s great, thanks for posting that

  2. Suzie Medders says:

    Thanks for showing that all that technology is still about people.

  3. Alexandre says:

    You need not be shy.

  4. Oscar says:

    It’s also cited at the end of the famous Al Gore movie.

  5. Jane says:

    I found your poem a perfect closing to a very well executed presentation to the Library of Congress.

  6. Hi Michael,

    thats a great poem and a great video about the power of Youtube.
    Do You mind, if I try to translate this poem to German and publish it on my blog?

  7. Prof Wesch says:

    I would be honored. Thanks.

  8. Largos says:

    Years later it is still a very beautiful poem…i’m impressed!

  9. Biz Burnett says:

    Mr. Wesch: Thanks and God bless you. You’re a genius for being able to “connect the dots” LITERALLY, by connecting Carl Sagan’s “pale blue dot” description of the earth as seen by the astronauts to our webcam’s “little glass dot, the eyes of the world.” As the old saying goes, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” The internet and your sharing Digital Ethnography’s findings are helping us ALL also connect the dots between the (English) words soul and sole. Are all other languages THIS metaphysical?!? Merriam-Webster.com says the word “sole” was first used in the 14th century, and it originates from Anglo-French ‘sul’, ‘soul’, ‘seul’, which is from the Latin ‘solus’ which means “alone, having no companion/friend/protector, lonely, only, single, unique.” Lonelygirl15…Hmmm… And then there’s that dance song in the video whose lyrics actually include “Aha”! We’re still in “the Garden.” We never left. We just believed we did. Everyone’s invited to this Garden Party. The venue is the tiny blue dot. ;-D