Monday, September 14, 2009

PL 63/09: The net is a conversation

Filed under: future, web 2.0 — plinius @ 2:04 pm

converse1The first historical use of iron for tools and weapons undermined the social structures – read power and prestige – based on bronze. No more palaces in Crete.

The industrial use of iron for tools and transport destroyed dominion based on land. Power and prestige rushed to the cities.

The internet is equally powerful. It will destroy the social institutions whose main purpose is physical mediation of otherwise interested but unconnected parties.

From conduit to barrier

Over time, those middle layers will simply go away – Quinn Norton writes. They have to, because they are transformed (through no fault of their own) from conduit to barrier.

  • When I first consulted with all sorts of companies in 1995 about their very first web pages, every one of them wanted to put their catalog or brochures on the web!
  • How cool is that!
  • Not actually that cool, I tried to humbly suggest.
  • “The net,” I said repeatedly until my coworkers were ready to hurl, “is a conversation.”
  • Many of these companies and organizations had never really conversed with anyone connected to them.

This also applies to governments. To understand Government 2.0 we should ask: what parts of governments exist to physically deliver something that can be described as information?

You may fight the web because you dislike the consequences. You may oppose iron because you grew up with bronze. But those parts will eventually go away.

Unfair, unfair, unfair – and vain.

Argue from scratch

To understand revolutions, we must argue from scratch – which means the fundamental principles of human behavior – applying them to new practical conditions. “The Law of Least Effort” is one of the fundamentals: we always cut corners when we can.

Lazy as chimpanzees in the jungle …


Quinn Norton is a writer and photographer whose work has appeared in Wired News, The Guardian, Make Magazine, Seed, and more. She covers copyright, robotics, computer security, intellectual property, body modification, and medicine. She lives in San Francisco with her daughter and a number of teapots.




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