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What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

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A global electronic culture can, in one sense or another, bring about a union of peoples. The question is whether this union only offers a less visible -- and therefore more insidious -- communal dissociation than was effected by the failed political unions of the past. Recognizing such things is painfully difficult; how many Yugoslavs in 1990 could have looked into their own hearts and the hearts of their neighbors and descried the conflagration to come? And it may be precisely this sort of recognition that an online culture suppresses more effectively than any external authority possibly could. Many indeed -- by their own testimony -- have seized upon the Net as an opportunity, not to face what they are, but to live out their fantasies.

Technology transfer

The global village is by all accounts a technological creation. Many would-be village architects are inspired by the endless potentials they discern in a satellite dish planted among thatched-roof houses. This techno-romantic image calls up visions of information sharing and cooperation, grassroots power, and utopian social change.

What it ignores is the monolithic and violently assimilative character of the resulting cultural bridges. Jerry Mander and many others have given us a hair-raising account of the effects of technological imperialism upon native peoples around the world. A global village that leaves no place for native or alternative cultures seems uncomfortably like the old colonialism in a new guise. But this statement requires some elaboration.

Why do we use it?

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

Our loss becomes an acute problem for others when we apply our now disembodied rationality (often in the form of computer programs such as expert systems) to the concrete needs of developing nations. This rationality, detached as it is even from our own former sources of meaning, is doubly alien to the people we would help. And what meaning we do invest in software and technology remains, for the most part, unconscious.

In this sense, even if in no other, the global village is a kind of global totalitarianism. And one thing it asks of us is clear: in attacking any local problem we must yield first of all, not to the meanings inherent in the problem, but to the constraining necessity of the global system itself. The village farmers in Nepal may not feel any need of a satellite dish, but they will receive one nevertheless; it is a prerequisite for "development."

But, as I have already pointed out, this willy-nilly imposition of technology destroys the fabric of meaning by which communities are knit together. Our bafflement over conflicts in the global village reflects a forgetfulness of the fact that human life can be sustained only within a sea of meaning, not a network of information. When we disrupt this meaning with our detached logic and unrooted information, we cast the villagers into the same void that we have been able to endure only by filling it with endless diversions. Not everyone has access to our diversions -- and many of those who do are not so quickly willing to sell their souls for inane stimulations. Religious fanaticism -- to pick one alternative -- may prove more meaningful.

Technological change should be introduced only so far as it serves the natural, consciously chosen evolution of a people. "What is important," says Schoenhoff, "is that development, including technological and economic development, must proceed from a vision of the human person and the purpose of life and not simply from a theory of production and consumption not even, I might add, from a theory of the production and consumption of the empty commodity we now call "information." In a healthy society, technology would emerge from the cultural matrix; it would not arbitrarily destroy that matrix.

We can hardly play a positive role in the development of other cultures without first ennobling our own behavior to the point where we are no longer content to exploit those cultures for a strictly economic benefit. The real "meaning" of the world's wiring is in fact little more than the exploitation of commercial opportunities -- the purest philistinism -- in which nearly all of us are implicated. Enabling cultures around the globe to transform themselves from within is hardly part of the picture.

When cultures collapse instead of transcending themselves through their own best elements, only chaos can ensue. This is the whirlwind we have been reaping for some time. The current, furious attempts to assimilate every society to the inhuman imperatives of the information age will only intensify the maelstrom.

Where can I get some?

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don't look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn't anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

The obvious lie should already have alerted us to the dangers. A culture that has largely succeeded in eradicating the last traces of its own village life turns around andby appealing to a yet further extension of the eradicating technology encourages itself with Edenic images of a global village. This is Doublespeak. The television, having helped to barricade the villager behind the walls of his own home, will not now convert the world into a village simply by enabling him to watch the bombs as they rain upon Baghdad. Nor will we suddenly be delivered from ourselves by making the television interactive and investing it with computing power. (Interactivity allows, among other things, the hand to guide the bomb to its target.) In none of this do we see a healing of the terms of human exchange. Nor do we see evidence of escape from the inexorable, despotic logic already responsible for the fortification and isolation of our own inner-city "villages."