Home > The Ghost in the Machine > The Ghost in the Machine: Dialogue on the Influence of the Internet, Part 1

The Ghost in the Machine: Dialogue on the Influence of the Internet, Part 1

Greetings, readers!  Steve J. Moore, author of theSpigot (a blog that can also be found on my Blogroll), asked me to be part of a blog collaboration.  We will be dissecting the relationship between people and the Internet.  Simply, “Does the internet reflect humanity or vice versa?”  The following content is NOT my original work, and I have reproduced it with the permission of the author.  It is concise and thought-provoking.  In the near future, I will have the chance to voice my opinion on the subject.  You DON’T want to miss it!  In the meantime, enjoy this special report.  We’ll be back to regular programming sometime soon!

This comes from Nathaniel Carroll, posted on his blog, NonDeScript.  Feel free to peruse his blog and leave many comments, as it is now on my Blogroll.  Enjoy!

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” – Oscar Wilde

This week, an e-friend of mine, Steve J. Moore, proposed an interesting question: Does the Internet reflect Humanity or vice versa? To start the discussion, we will take a look at life before Internet. Then, we will examine the life after Internet and its impact on the individual.

Information is power
Nikola Tesla began tinkering with the wireless transmission of information in 1891. The first television broadcasts were transmitted in 1928 to mechanical tv sets with horrible picture quality. In the mid thirties to the beginning of the forties, mechanical sets were commercially available for home use, but production soon stopped as manufacturing efforts became focused on World War II. After the war, the technological boom began to pick up speed again. The first full-color set came in 1954 and cost $1,000.  Today, one thousand bucks buys you a 50″ flat screen tv like this.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

There seems to be an inverse correlation between the availability of information and its value (see Figure 1.1).  In other words, the easier accessing information becomes, the less we are willing to pay for it.  To learn more about this correlation, read Thomas L. Friedman’s book, The World is Flat.  The expansive virtual bank of knowledge has made the world seem much smaller.  Thanks to Mobile 2.0, we expect information to be readily available to us at all times, to the extent that even email is considered an inferior form of communication.  I drew Figure 1.1, photographed it with my phone, sent it to my email address, and uploaded it to the blog in less than one minute.  We want information now, and we want it to be free.

The Shape of (Human) Things
I am twenty three years old.  My first vivid memory involves my father busily working on a thesis under the blue glow of a Tandy 1000 computer screen, my curious finger, and a large red reset button (I’ll post the whole story sometime).  The internet, in a relatively archaic form, already existed.  But even in my youth, when I wanted information for an Earth Science research paper on volcanoes I made photocopies of encyclopedia entries in the school library.  The card catalog was not computerized until I was in high school.  Back in my day, you had to be patient – you had to wait for information to come to you.  Back in my day, you had to be dilligent – you had to spend countless hours scouring tiny print and irrelevant factoids in search of answers.  Back in my day, you had to respect the information you sought.

Today, the quality of content published on the internet spreads from precise, powerful information to pure unsolicited crap.  Because the good stuff can be accessed through the same medium as the bad, it has to be free and effortless.

With regard to the value we assign information, I say that Internet reflects Humanity.  Internet – 1, Humanity – 0.

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  1. February 4, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I challenge you to write at least part of your response to this from the perspective of your cat, just because.

    • kylebaxter
      February 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm

      Mister, you have yourself a deal!

  2. February 5, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for joining in on the discussion, Kyle! I love the blog. I look forward to your perspective on the issue.

    • kylebaxter
      February 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement! I am looking forward to completing it. I’m worried I’ll be shamed by every one else’s intellectual prowess. I’ll try to keep up. HA!

  1. February 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm

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