Sunday, January 22, 2012

What's an internet?

Aka. Internet, World Wide Web... Cue xkcd reference:

What the hell is it?

Strange question I know, since you're USING the interwebs right now... as am I. And we're all quite aware of what it is and how it came about. Some of us even understand the internal  workings of the internet. The thing is, when my brother asked me, "What's an internet?" (after my repeated explainations of why we cannot yet download more games on his iTouch), I found I had a really hard time explaining what the internet IS. Stumbling for words, my inadaquet answer for him was, "It's this public space where you can get stuff... electronically... and... ya..."

Sure, I could have gone into the whole oxford definition:



(the Internet)
  • a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.

But I doubt my brother's six-year old mind would have understood. So here's what the internet means for me:

  • A way to instantly connect with people
  • Instantly get information from anywhere in the world
  • Entertainment 
  • Global community
  • Place to share ideas
  • A place where ordinary social cues change 
  • Be yourself, or be anyone else
  • Where all my research gets done
  • Mutli-task extreme!
Thinking about it now, Jeffrey Deaver wrote a lovely short essay in his book The Blue Nowhere about the internet:

"The line between the real world and the machine world is becoming more and more blurred each day. But it's not that humans are turning into automatons or becoming slaves to machines. No, we're simply growing towards each other. In the Blue Nowhere, machines are taking on our personalities and culture- our language, myths, metaphors, philosophy and spirit. ... Now he turns on his computer and enters the Blue Nowhere, a place where he interacts- he has tactile stimulation of the keyboard, verbal exchanges, he's challenged. He can't be passive anymore. He has to provide input to get some response. He's entered a higher level of existence and the reason is that machines have come to him. They speak his language. ..."

It's interesting to think that the internet really is whatever we choose to make of it and it turns into what we, as a whole, create.

No comments:

Post a Comment