Sunday, November 1, 2009

Evolving Internet

How is the internet like the Wizard of Oz?

Because, "My people come and go here so quickly!"

Well said Dorothy.

I got my first personal computer in 1997. It was a Gateway. I was never more excited to receive a cow printed box. Up to that point all the computers I worked on were owned by an employer, a friend or some other entity. I was well versed enough to own my own computer, but it still felt a little like the first time I drove by myself after I got a license.

Within hours of unpacking it, I was connected to the World Wide Web, and off I went into a new age of technology and communication. It wasn't long before I was looking at porn, conversing with friends via email and participating in chat rooms. I actually "met" a lot of cool people in some of those chat rooms. And before long, I had my own chat room, that was intended for "intelligent talk about politics and philosophy." It was fun while it lasted.

Since then, my activities online have evolved with the environment itself. I use Craigslist to find work, I watch television programs and listen to my favorite radio shows at my own convenience, I blog to share my ideas and perspective and I participate in social networks to broadcast things of interest. It seemed, if only for a moment, that the internet and it's tools had achieved an apex of sorts.

But the internet has a tendency to change, and change it does. Facebook for example, has recently changed it's page so that when you log on you have to update your News Feed in order to get information about what your friends are up to. It use to be that you logged on and at a quick glance could see who was spending way too much time on Mafia Wars. But now you log on, look and think, "nothing has happened since I logged on last?" And then remember you remember that you have to click something to see what your friends are up to.

This very well could be the pitfall of Facebook, then the end of yet another online fad. Ten years from now Facebook could like chat rooms are to us now: a seemingly meaningful way to spend time, but not something one ever admits to in public. When I posted these sentiments on my Facebook a friend replied,

"It's already so boring compared to a few months ago. I was never on my space but people say fb is way more fun and that's why ms died out, wonder what's next?"-(SBM)

Good question. What is next? But I think it also goes to the question of social networking and why we do it. Is it that we have all become busy bodies wanting to be in each others business, or do we genuinely care about what our "friends" have to say online? I use the italics here because I was recently reminded that some people don't really understand the subtle difference between social network friends and friends in real life. Here's a quick clue: friends in real life are the ones I complain to when I have cramps.

Personally I use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to share interesting things I come across, help friends promote projects, and as a place to emit general snarkiness. It's useful, amusing, and a great way to start conversations about things that matter (to me). So I truly hope that this network of networks where my Twitter feed updates on my Facebook, and I share this blog by using both networks so I can share the multiple links I place in my blogs to direct folks to other things online, won't change too much.

But I can't help but think that there's a model of Chaos Theory brewing in all this. Every year it seems the internet has less of a resemblance to a frayed knot and more to the fiber optic cable that brings this ability now via wi-fi to my bedroom as I type these words on a laptop.

What is next? I've gotta wonder.

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