The Evolution of The Internet – Evolution & Conflict of Ideas

Evolution of Ideas

Evolution and Conflict of Ideas

I recall with fondness buying my first 14.4Kbps modem in the early 90’s and using my fathers Compuserve account to run up massive bills speaking to random strangers from across the globe in chat rooms. What a neat experience! But the Internet was not free as it is today – and a user could easily run up a bill for several hundred pounds in one month of ‘excessive’ usage.

And the highway toll isn’t the only thing that’s changed in this time. Looking back, it’s hard to ignore the evolutionary processes these ideas have undergone :- PHP gets bigger and more powerful, get itself all object orientated and has an AJAX affair with Javascript, content and design get divorced, (although design still gets CSS visitation rights to HTML on weekends, though this is generally frowned upon by the public who would prefer CSS stay at least 1 document away from HTML at all times!) Websites become blogs, search engines become marketing opportunities, social networking becomes the norm and tutorial sites become Wiki. Then humans start using these phrases like ‘Web 2.0‘ to describe the new and emerging landscape. Not only a collection of concepts about user experience, participation and user-generated content, but an associated appearance and design that somehow reflects these beliefs – akin to religious art and iconography woven into the architecture. Like, religion, there will be believers and non-believers – those who accept the program and those who don’t.

Web 2.0 – The Religious Doctrine, Ideal and Direction

Tim Berners-Lee, credited inventor of the Internet, said in an interview with Developer Works (22 Aug 2006):

Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is, of course, a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.

Perhaps he is not wrong about the underlying, objective, but does Web 2.0 not express the WAY in which we connect to each other? I don’t think anyone has suggested the Web 1.0 was not about connections – but rather – Web 2.0 expresses the trends in the way in which those connections are continuously evolving.

Perhaps Web 2.0 is just a fancy word. Perhaps it is not real, in the same way that magnetic north is not real – simply our arbitrary labelling of a phenomenon resulting from the Earths’ natural magnetic field. But by employing this arbitrary label, we can make use of this phenomenon – devising maps, describing directions and positions which can be communicated in accurate detail to others. Even though ‘magnetic north’ itself is just an arbitrary label we have created from thin air.

Web 2.0 – Like Evolutions Direction On A Compass

And at the risk of becoming as woolly as the concept itself – perhaps Web 2.0 is best thought of in this way – as the evolutionary direction of the ideas on the Internet. It is about improvements in the methods we employ to help the Internet do what it does best – allowing ideas to be free to mingle, to fight, of views to be shared. As this happens, ideas naturally evolve in the same way that species evolve, the more successful elements of the fittest living on in future generations.

The other day I was reading Google News while logged into my Google account, and realised that every single article was tailored to suit me – updates on something I had read about previously – or had written about in my blog. Now that Google also tailors search results and my experience on the web, I find myself wondering how far this will go. What political event will slip under my radar, because Google knows I have never previously expressed an interest? To what extent will my experience of reality start becoming unique to myself? I coudn’t help thinking it was both strange and ironic that the desire to reach out and connect with others, has now given rise to the choice of personalising that experience in some cases.

As our society appears to be crumbling around us, I can’t help feeling as though the Internet is the way forward. It helps catalyse a process of idea sharing that has been around since we began to make noises and drawing on cave walls.