The horror. It's like a Ray Bradbury short story--little kids know way more about technology than you do, and God only knows where that could lead. Face it, buddy, the world of computers and the Internet has left you eating dust, but you're too scared to log on. "But I'm the thoughtful, literary type," you insist. "I'd rather compose my letters on an Underwood, discuss Camus, and hang out in museums than waste my time in front of a computer. I want to drink life, not byte into some virtual world."
Here's your chance to catch up without losing face or sabotaging your--um--sensibilities. The McKinney Avenue Contemporary has, since June, offered a free service called the Cybercafe: Four terminals (three PCs and one new, slick iMac) hooked up and ready to lead you gently through this brave new world, all in the MAC's art-friendly lobby. No, really--just walk in during regular hours, tell someone you're there, and get after it, with helpful instructions plainly written in accompanying notebooks. The computers are already linked (i.e., one button away) to local and national art-related Web sites, so you won't be fumbling through endless alien territory or falling in a black hole of cyber hell. A few mouse clicks in, and you're looking at the classical sculpture collection at the Louvre or seeing what's up at Turner and Runyon.
Want a more personal touch? Just ask any MAC employee for some pointers; better yet, starting September 19, the Cybercafe's director, Marina Zakarian, will offer free introductory classes two Saturdays a month. The first round is titled, aptly enough, "Surfin' 101." Anyone can attend (call ahead), and she'll walk you through the basics. Upcoming classes, "My Computer" and "Where to Build a Web Site," will follow later this season.
In the last few months, the Cybercafe has hosted school field trips and an iMac demo party. In upcoming months, the MAC Web site (www.themac.net) will stretch its horizons to include online conferencing, QuickTime-captured MAC art lectures, and Kitchen Dog Theater events (the Dog is located in the MAC), as well as clear visual slices of regular exhibitions. Eventually, it'll expand to include a catalog of regional artists' work (visual artists can get one slide of their work on the site for free).
Zakarian hopes that the cyber area will boast up to eight additional terminals before too long, and a broader range of user-friendly events. This is the perfect "try-before-you-buy" set up; most hardcore computer heads are busy surfing at home, and most likely the person logging onto the computer next to yours will be as interested in the new exhibit at the Modern as you are.