Friday, February 20, 2009

Long live the internet

by means of welcoming you to this, my humble journal, i would like to shout « long live the internet ; long live web 2.0 ».
why such exuberance ? - you may rightfully ask – the internet has been an integral part of our lives for years and there is nothing new about web 2.0. isn’t everyone awaiting web 3.0 anyways ?

i know, i know, there is nothing new. It’s just that i found myself yelling at my TV the other night (yes, i talk to the TV) as i was listening to an interview of andrew keen. there’s probably a good reason i hadn’t heard of him before and now i wish i still hadn’t. the dude went on and on ranting about the infamous ‘cult of the amateur’. you may have heard of his book – if you haven’t, don’t bother.

now, i don’t want to sound like an old fart BUT my experience of the web harkens back to the mid 90’s. remember, the internet, in those days, was slow and somewhat lonely. sites were rudimentary or sometimes bright and very tacky. we joined ALT-groups and engaged in minimal searches via altavista and hotbot… (ach, I’m verklempt… talk amongst yourselves)
slowly but surely, the cyber country road became the information superhighway (first time i heard Al Gore talk about it, i was in grad school and i could not even fathom what he was raving about). and the building of that superhighway wasn’t only because of the work of a handful of silicon valley geeks. it was also the doing of average curious minds who taught themselves HTML. In other words, the painstaking labor of thousands of amateurs, with a deep yearning to share knowledge. sweet lord, i built my first website on webtv… that’s dedication, trust me.

the internet has always been and ought to continue being the playground of the ‘amateur’, of the person who is not afraid to share his/her passions, ideas, creations, beliefs, fears, thoughts. and what’s wrong with that?
so what, if there are thousands of juvenile videos and inane blogs on the web ? so what, if hundreds of idiots poison wikipedia with sophomoric arguments ? so what, if zitty teenagers want to spend their evenings on facebook? so what ?

the beauty of the internet is precisely that : the sublime and the moronic, intertwined, coexisting, challenging each other. for there is an equal amount of intelligent, insightful, useful sites, blogs and videos on the net. there are a lot of scholars or other wise intellects who use the internet because it’s quick, it’s interactive, it’s international. and they still publish books and articles but why not ALSO use this new open and free medium, even if it does inevitably fall prey to idiocy ?

the bottom line is this: discernment is the one tool the surfer must possess. and that tool ought to be applied to information shared by amateurs as well as by the so-called professionals.