The WIRED Projection

February 15, 2008

The curiousities about internet and web capabilities have been on the minds of innovators for over half a century. Kevin Kelly begins his recap of history with idealist Vannevar Bush in 1945. When Ted Nelson started to build the concept of hyperlinked pages, the fantasy of search began to take its course. Nelson’s inspiring invention led him to believe that the the “grand utopian benefits of his embedded structure” would be the salvation of our stupid world. Those are seemingly harsh words coming from a fellow human being with a brain that structure the hyperlink, however, Nelson stepped on his own foot when he made that comment as hyperlinks have transformed the usage of the internet from inquiry of information to our taking the place of our own memory. Clearly, Nelson was right when he said that the hyperlink was “just the beginning”. “Transclusion” and “Interwingularity”, as Nelson, named these actions,  revamped the internet into a web of ecommerce, citizens media, customized news and information, music, and television and participatory consumers have become the spiders that continue to spin the web, threading and connecting links to each other. Kelly drops some impressive numbers, claiming that each person on earth could have 100 of their own webpages at any given time. I hate to burst this dreamy bubble but the digital divide the gap between people who do benefit from web technology and those who don’t, still exists. Kelly talks about all the economic benefits that come out of participatory usage of the internet and consumers building and flourishing their business on the internet. But everyone does not use the internet at an equal level. Yes, the freedom of speech is increasing as small, e-businesses are becoming larger and filling the shoes of big businesses, but everyone doesn’t have an e-business or knows how to blog or create video and photo journals on the web. What about all of the people who still only use the web for email only or to check the weather or get driving directions from Yahoo! or Google Maps? How will these people participate in the civilization of the web? In the 1990s, internet mavens and researchers were concerned that the government would have too much control on the way that the internet could be used by consumers, but now that barrier is broken. So who is controlling it now? Or is it just a free for all? This is a highly political matter. What I know for sure is that Nelson couldn’t have possibly predicted everything. That’s my CNN (WIRED) projection.



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