Monday, November 12, 2007

Stream of consciousness part 1: the Internet

What follows is a completely unfiltered and unedited post on the subject of the nature of the Internet. This is the first part of an experiment I'm trying on what is popularly called "stream of consciousness" or "free writing." Perhaps you will find something interesting and comment-worthy; perhaps not. Such is the nature of an experiment.

A commentary on programming and the web.

Java, JavaScript, AJAX, C++, .NET, ASP, all these things are just different languages that achieve roughly the same end. That end is to produce something or to explore something, two verbs with ubiquitous usage throughout history if only in concept.

The web, or more accurately the internet, is a social medium. Unlike other forms of communication such as artwork or books, the internet is by and large two-way. This has given rise to the concept of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is something of a misnomer, though - the Web has always wanted to be a vehicle for large scale communication. This blog is an example of that. The earliest versions of the Internet incorporated email and bulletin board systems. Nothing revolutionary in that, either; it just meant faster communication.

So then, combining the production of stuff - using programming languages - and the distribution of stuff (since distribution is a social action), the Web is nothing more than an extension of the real world. It's not particularly fascinating nor particularly original, but it allows us to interact with more people than might otherwise be possible.

Something that, then, follows from this is that people will through communication on a larger scale acquire a larger number of experiences and points of view. Through this, more thought is generated, ultimately speeding up the discovery process.

Interestingly, the Internet can overcome some traditional barriers of communication and thereby promote freedom. Certainly the Internet has been a godsend for the libertarian line of thought. It has also been highly useful to people like those from Myanmar. By the same token though, it has also enabled the more extreme edges of society to have a bigger voice. Disturbing behaviors and lines of thought are present on the Web where they would not be tolerated in more antiquated types of communication and literature, such as libraries.

Imagine, if the speed and reach of the Internet is what has revolutionized the way society interacts....what would society be like if we were all telepathic?

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