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Hitchhikers Guide to the Future


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BBC-Host > Hi there folks, the chat is about to begin. Get your questions in quick.

Question from Emma Westecott> Is he there yet?
BBC-Host > He is oiling up his vocal chords.

Question from Lee Martin >Do you enjoy using the Internet, or do you use it as an everyday object for everyday needs?
Douglas Adams > I guess these days I use it the same way I use the telephone. It's just part of everyday, like do you enjoy using the telephone?

Question-from Tara > Do you have a book out?
Douglas Adams > - I don't have a new book out at the moment but I am working on one and because I'm a bit superstitious I'm not going to say any more about it!

Question-from Emma Westecott > What is your future?
Douglas Adams > Well we'd all like to know that wouldn't we? I don't have a crystal ball so I can't say.

Question-from Chris Tonks > Hey there! :-) I was wondering, with your h2g2 company, how are you going to use your influence in the Internet for, say, Internet music?
Douglas Adams > Internet music? Well...oh....
um.... I would - its an impossible question but an interesting topic! I think we need to find much simpler and straightforward ways of handling intellectual property on the web by which I mean finding ways by which people can pay small amounts easily and quickly for music, books and so on. And at that point I think we will get through the current battles and logjams that are caused by the fact that there is a huge gap between cost of a cd or a book which tends to be in the £10 -20 range and the cost of downloading a piece of music which is zero.I think there is a happy mean achievable which will mean that artists get properly recorded and music fans will be able to get music for much less than they currently pay for cds.

Question-from Sophie Pragnell> Do you think Stephen King's experiment publishing on the net was successful?
Douglas Adams > Well he's made two publications on the net, the first of which if I understand was much more successful than the second it's hard to say what of any number of factors made the difference I think we will inevitably go through many, many models of making it work before we settle on one that everybody's happy with.

Question-from Mike Robinson > Is it true you had guitar lessons from David Gilmour?
Douglas Adams > Hahahahaha - I didn't have guitar lessons as such although he did show me how to play the bit that I played when I went on stage with Pink Floyd in 1994 it was a very simple guitar piece that virtually anybody could play the great trick was to learn to play it slowly enough that's the test of a real musician!

Question-from Lee Martin > Do you agree with Napster?
Douglas Adams >'bout what? I'd refer them to my previous answer about music on the web

Question-from Joshua Bryson->
do you love your job?
Douglas Adams > I think like most people I sometimes love my job and I sometimes hate it sometimes wish I had more time to get on with it and spend less time dealing with it.

Question-from Linsey > What do you believe will make the most impact in the next 10 - 20 years in the area of IT/Communications?
Douglas Adams > I think mobile information

Question-from Alan > do you think that radio has a future in the digital world?
Douglas Adams > I think it has an enormous future! I think that radio is in a very um... interesting position at the moment because right now it is possible to deliver radio over the web in ways that it is still very difficult to deliver TV, it's just a question of bandwidth and of experimenting in all kind of ways in which it can make use of um... the web for finding new audiences and new material to give them.

Question-from Clare McGarva> What do you think of dvds?
Douglas Adams > I much prefer them to video tapes, that's for sure! Like most types of physical media these days it probably won't be long before we start replacing dvds with something of a much higher capacity capable of delivering higher definition tv and so on, but for now I think dvds are pretty good - I certainly collected many more than I've had the chance to watch yet.

Question-from Alistair Lyons > How much input did you have in the Marvin 7" singles. Are you happy for them to have appeared on Napster?
Douglas Adams > I had very little input in fact it was a collaboration between Steven Moore and John Sinclair which I had the tiniest amount of input into. I didn't know they were on Napster. I don't have any strong feelings one way of the other!

Question-from Eddie > you were known as a fan of Apple Macs - are you still?
Douglas Adams > Absolutely!!!!! where I sit in my study I can see a G4, a G4 cube Powerbook, two imacs and two old G3s and two apple cinema displays which are the most wonderful pieces of technological kit I've ever seen.

Question-from Saggy Herman > I would like to ask Mr Adams if he still gets his inspiration from Bovril sandwiches and nice hot baths?
Douglas Adams > Hahahahaha - since I now live in California Bovril is very hard to come by and we tend to take showers rather than baths!

Question-from James Heaver > Could you please describe a bovril sandwich?
Douglas Adams > Not on a family show!

Question-from James Heaver> Is the publius enigma real?
Douglas Adams > It has nothing to do with me - I can't say anything about it.

Question-from Diane Colover > Is the h2g2 movie still a live project, or has been transformed into something even better?
Douglas Adams > I'm hoping to do yet another webcast very shortly to talk specifically about the status of the movie. I'll not pretend we don't have problems at the moment but I'll be able to talk about those in more detail when my yahoo webcast is set up which will be in two or three weeks

Question-from Joanne > Do you realise the impact your books have on the scientist population?
Douglas Adams > On the scientists? I've certainly some idea that they're popular with scientists. I was one of the ...there was one fan letter I once had, I was enormously proud to receive, which was from Richard Dawkins who has subsequently become a good friend and is someone whose thinking I enormously admire.

Question-from Myles Dowding > Why did you move to California?
Douglas Adams > 'Cos I was tired of commuting in the last year before I moved over here I travelled to the states ten times in the year and it was something similar the year before that.

Question-from David Sime > Do you miss Islington?
Douglas Adams > hahahaha - yes I do, from time to time but not its traffic!

Question-from Eddie > Would you go on Have I Got News for You again if asked?
Douglas Adams >
I don't think I would and I'm not sure I'd be asked anyway like most people I find that you're much more quick-witted watching quiz shows on television than actually taking part in them!

Question-from Kenji Yamada> Did you have to learn Greek in school?
Douglas Adams > I did, it was the one O level I failed.
BBC-Host > No disgrace there.

Question-from Alsitair Lyons > Was the fan letter from Richard Dawkins before or after he quoted from Dirk Gently in The Selfish Gene?
Douglas Adams > I guess - oooh, I'm not sure because the quote was in a later revised edition of his book it wasn't in the original. I know it must have come after... blind watchmaker, because he included some examples of biomorphs he had grown.

Question-from Claire Foullon > Are you fascinated by other technologies than communication tools?
Douglas Adams > Basically I like anything with a battery in it!

Question-from Paul Boddie > I have always wanted to know where the theme music for the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio and TV series came from. Was it specially composed for the radio series or did it come from an existing work?
Douglas Adams > I found it in my record collection. It's a track called journey of the sorcerer and it comes from an Eagles album called One of these Nights. Recently I met for the first time the man who wrote it he was one of the founding members of the eagles his name was bernie leadon.

Question-from David Sime > What music are you listening to at the moment?
Douglas Adams > At this moment -eh - nothing at all just the whirr of a hard disk drive. I listen to Randy Newman and - um Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe and Ry C
ooder and Bach and Mozart and -as always - of course, the Beatles

Question-from David Sime >
Does that mean the music will be used for the film? Douglas Adams > That's something I can't even answer at the moment I would like it if that were the case but we have many other hurdles to over come before selecting the soundtrack music.

Question-from Benjamin Cook > What is your idea of heaven?
Douglas Adams > I 'm wondering what he means by that being an atheist, I don't believe for one second that the human mind persists after the death of the human body if you're asking what my idea of heaven on earth is... it's..oooh I would say that the best week of my life was spent on a tiny diving boat somewhere on the great barrier reef.

Question-from Eddie > Who was your least favourite character to write?
Douglas Adams > my least favourite - oh good heavens...I don't think I've got an answer for that, I'm afraid.

Question-from Lord Lopper > Is there any danger of you carrying out your threat to write a book on atheism?
Douglas Adams > I'm sorry you think it's a threat. It's something I'm thinking about seriously. Whether it would be exactly about atheism I don't know, but.. But the book I have in mind would certainly have to do with that.

Question-from Teresa Perrin > At what point in your life did you become an atheist?
Douglas Adams > The first moment at which my hitherto solid Christian belief got badly shaken was when I stopped to listen to a street corner evangelist and was suddenly hit by the horrid realisation that he was talking complete nonsense from there to... solid atheism was a long haul over many years that involved primarily learning how evolution worked.

Question-from Tom Rose > Will the new radio series be syndicated in the land of handguns and McDonalds?? We don't get near enough of you here, what with all the shootings and Hamburger adverts..
Douglas Adams > hahahahahaha - well you better ask Mark Rickards (the Producer) that!
BBC-Host > Mark speaking - I hope that the BBC will consider releasing cassettes of the series, but it is a long and complicated business. In the meantime remember that you can download the programmes at any time from the website.
BBC host > - thanks Mark
Douglas Adams > I would add that the BBC only thinks it's a long Douglas Adams and complicated process because it USED to be a long complicated process!!

Question-from Alan > How long have you been using the net/bbs's/usenet?
Douglas Adams > I first started going online with an online service called the Source back in 1983.

Question-from Sam Donaldson > How did you respond when Radiohead named one of their most complex songs after the despondent android Marvin?
Douglas Adams > I was very flattered, you might say.

Question-from Nick Bailey > Do you think the film industry is ready for the digital age? Douglas Adams > If you're asking me, right now here today what I think the film industry's ready for I'd say - a lobotomy!!! But I shall probably feel better tomorrow!

Question-from Stuart > Did you have a computer before the MAC? if so what type? Douglas Adams > I had several before the mac actually I had a dec rainbow, I had an apricot and I had a stand-alone word processor made by a company, nexos, but the mac was the first to make me think "ah this is the future"

Question-from Catherine > Do you think that interactive television will change the perspective of politicians if the public can give opinion which will be instantly collated and presented?
Douglas Adams > I think that um... the actual domain of interactivity is on the web, not on television

Question-from Eddie > On the Mac theme, have you had a go at OS X?
Douglas Adams > I have put OS10 on a spare computer and played with it a little bit but, I'm waiting for the proper release version before I involve my self with it very much. I'm very excited about the prospect of what it will deliver but I long ago learnt that being an early adopter of systems that aren't quite ready yet is a very good way of wasting a lot of time.

Question-from Nick Bailey > Do you think the film industry is ready for the Hitchhikers Guide?
Douglas Adams >
hhahahaha - just today I can offer no principled response to that question!

Question-from Jamie Potter > how old are you?
Douglas Adams > I'm 48, which is a bit of a shock to me! Why only last year I thought I was a precocious young thing!

Question-from Mick Carter > What do you think of the Open Source movement?
Douglas Adams > I'm torn. On the one hand I see and understand all the arguments in its favour and think that they're very powerful as somebody who's a committed evolutionist and a bottom-up designer I feel that it's the right way to go on the other hand, I really love my macintosh! I have not found a way of reconciling these positions.

BBC-Host > 10 mins to go, get your questions in quick!

Question-from Eddie > Does it ever get annoying to have people asking the same questions non-stop? I'm pretty sure you will have heard 'when's the next book coming out?' a few dozen times by now
Douglas Adams > yes. (laughs)

Question-from Martin Smith > What magazines do you read?
Douglas Adams > what magazines? far fewer than I used to , because of the web. I guess I have subscriptions to new scientist and Wired and Sound on Sound.The magazine I really miss is the Listener which of course died many years ago.

Question-from Sophie Pragnell> Will the Internet eventually help or hinder creativity in music and writing?
Douglas Adams > I think it'll probably help and hinder it in equal measures, just like most things do.

Question-from Martin Smith > Do you think this will really be the Asia-Pacific century?
Douglas Adams > I've no idea. It was - everyone keeps on predicting that the focus of power will move from America to somewhere else and never quite seems to do so. I don't quite understand why not!

Question-from Nick Bailey > How is California these days?
Douglas Adams > Well of course the election result is not finally known though it seems quite clear which way its probably going to go I must say its a puzzle to me sitting here in the middle of it trying to figure out how 250 million people appear willing to elect a complete dolt!

Question-from Laura Shadbolt > How relevant to my generation (I'm 16) do you think Hitchhiker, its jokes and its plot are?
Douglas Adams > Hahahahahaha ! I think that's a question only a 16 year old could answer!

Question-from Catherine > Do you believe that our advancement in technology is part of our evolution?
Douglas Adams > There's a sense in which I think it's true but it's quite a complicated issue it depends on how far you're willing to take Richard Dawkin's concept of the extended phenotype. Further, I think, than he would be comfortable with.

Question-from James Heaver > do you find America's claim to allow freedom of speech and belief hypocritical.
Douglas Adams > I think that growing up in a crowded continent like Europe with an awful lot of competing claims ideas...cultures...and systems of thought we have, perforce, developed a more sophisticated notion of what the word freedom means than I see much evidence of in America

BBC-Host > 5 mins to go, if there is anything else you would like to ask please enter your questions now.

Douglas Adams > To be frank, it sometimes seems that the American idea of freedom has more to do with my freedom to do what I want than your freedom to do what you want. I think that in Europe we're probably better at understanding how to balance those competing claims though not a lot!

BBC-Host > Just a couple more questions before we finish up.

Question-from John C Scott > Vast amounts of information can travel from one point to another with very little resistance. Will this result in a cultural uniformity as we each become subject to the same information? How will cultural distinctiveness be retained?
Douglas Adams >
That's a big question! Um... I think that ease of travel tends to create alot of uniformity I think that ease of communication mediated by the computer tends to nurture diversity that certainly seems to be the lesson that the web is teaching us at the moment

BBC-Host > One more question.

Question-from Kenji Yamada > What, if anything, would cause you to apply for American citizenship?
Douglas Adams > I'd just like to say very briefly, I don't have any plans for American citizenship

Question-from Mick Carter > Do you ever write your own computer programs. If so, what?
Douglas Adams > I used to do some programming but not in any great depth something I wrote, I was really quite proud of was a system for collating and indexing all of the material in The Meaning of Liff I wrote that in a series of interlocking HyperCard stacks sadly the computer on which I did that got attacked by a trojan horse and I lost it all luckily I did have a printout of the actual book that it had generated.

BBC-Host > Thank you for joining the live chat tonight, sorry, but we don't have time for any more questions.

BBC-Host > The last word is from Douglas

Douglas Adams > Well, thank you very much everybody for coming along to this webcast Douglas Adams I hope you enjoyed it. I hope to be doing a webcast on yahoo in a couple of weeks to talk about the movie. Thanks. And good-bye!

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