Thursday, June 13, 2013


One of the things that bothers me the most about the Internet, is the claims people make for it. People are always writing and talking about how "all human knowledge is now at our fingertips." Huh? Or they're citing something from the Internet as if its presence on the web makes it valid.

This illusion seems to be pervasive, despite the fact that so much of human knowledge has not been digitized and therefore is only accessible through books or other primary sources, or has been lost forever. Those of us who had readings and performances filmed or videotaped or audiotaped that have never been digitized and may never be because of the deterioration of the tape, or newspaper articles whose records were never digitized and are long since destroyed or were microfilmed and that technology ended up being not as long lasting as once thought etc. know how much the net does not contain.

I've probably had over fifty readings of mine filmed or videotaped and maybe a hundred audiotaped since I first began reading publicly at the end of the 1950s, and I only know of one audiotape on Penn Sound and one reading in recent years on YouTube, neither were ones I necessarily would choose to represent the best of my reading experiences.

What made me particularly think about all this was my discovery the other day that someone had inserted into the Wikipedia entry on me that I had acted in porn movies and later wrote them! Never happened. And there were other entries on that site that were incorrect and obviously meant to embarrass me or create confusion. I edited them out but have no intention of checking up on it so for all I know they're back. Plus the entry itself characterizes my work in a way I wouldn't necessarily, etc.

I've only goggled myself a few times since Google was created, and then only because someone told me to check something. But every time I have done it, I've discovered all kinds of misinformation. The entry on the IMBd site about my film acting attributes to me several jobs an older man named Michael Lally did before I even started acting. He was the reason once I was in the Screen Actors Guild I had to add my middle name David, because he owned my name in the union. The confusion came about because I wasn't in the union for my first role starring in a low low budget vampire movie called DRACULA'S LAST RITES. And I was interviewed for a documentary on Hubert Selby Jr. in which I was identified as Michael Lally, without the David, and that too is on the site. So they then conflated some of the acting jobs the original Michael Lally did with a bunch of ones I did as Michael David Lally.

I think about all that confusion just on two sites that supposedly offer "facts" about me, and then add to that all the misinformation compiled on other sites about all of us, and then add to that the spying and snooping that goes on and I wonder how these cyber spies can even keep things straight, let alone prevent crime or attacks or whatever.

I long ago surrendered to the reality that we have little control over what others write and say about us anyway, so I wasn't surprised or upset, much, about misinformation about me (in some of the reviews and even publisher's advertising in early poetry books of mine it was reported that I was a student of James Dickey, who I never encountered, as well as a jet pilot in the Air Force, which I wasn't, etc.).

One of the reasons I have written so much about myself, besides it being as Whitman and Thoreau both wrote, the subject I know most about, and the idea of creating an art object out of personal experiences and observations, was to set the record straight even if just for me. But it's probably ultimately pointless.

And all this is not to say I don't love the access to so much information the web provides despite its misuse and misinformation and so much it doesn't contain. Like I found this still from the Dracula movie I was in on the web and had never seen it before so it was like meeting my younger self and seeing me from a perspective I never had. That makes the whole deal worthwhile I guess.


Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Good points Michael. Back in the '90s I resisted computers and internet for a while. I used to say "if i want to connect with the world wide web I'll just put my ear to the ground." The reality/truth is, if it all went away, we'd survive fine without it, and like I did before digital photography, have to rely on instinct, intuition and faith.

Lally said...

that's the beauty of the way we live our lives Robert, the simpler the better