In Steven Spielberg's movie thriller, "Minority Report," the pages of a "Time" or "Newsweek" magazine could change as you read them, especially as the celebrity pictured on the cover comes into your proximity. "Electronic paper" Xerox Corp. called the prototype in a demonstration I attended (for real) here in San Francisco. I find the convergence of science fiction with fact a bit unsettling.
Thanks to the web and Spielberg, a term like "spider" has multiple meanings. I'll admit to sending out HTML newsletters constructed with an Internet spider, a piece of software that automatically seeks out, copies and compiles
my content based on buzz words like power management" or "wireless." I'm also aware that web spiders have harvested my email address from published sources on the web, and sent out God-knows-what-kind of email solicitations in my name. In "Minority Report," a spider is a metal robot bug that creeps under your doorway, and interrupts family arguments to take a retina scan on behalf of the government.
I'm starting to develop a palpable fear about "creepy crawly
things": viruses and malicious scripts that get into your computer under the radar of Norton or McAfee) and yank your browser to somebody's commercial website, whether you intended to go there or not. I look at the crap that shows up daily in my corporate mailbox, and it really does feel like the end of the world. It's a scene pictured by the Wachowski brothers in "Matrix: Reloaded" or Alfred Hitchcock in "The Birds": They're out there flapping away. Any moment now, they'll get in.