Monday, February 05, 2007

Article review: We are the Web

I just read a remarkable article written by Kevin Kelly---"We are the web." Kevin is a well-known writer, editor, publisher, and possibly the most important to this context, he is a famous participant and observer of "cyberculture". When I am writing my article about web evolution, I am so glad and feel amazing to watch several of the thoughts been forseen by these great thinkers such as Kevin.

But looking back now, after 10 years of living online, what surprises me about the genesis of the Web is how much was missing from Vannevar Bush's vision, Nelson's docuverse, and my own expectations. We all missed the big story. The revolution launched by Netscape's IPO was only marginally about hypertext and human knowledge. At its heart was a new kind of participation that has since developed into an emerging culture based on sharing. And the ways of participating unleashed by hyperlinks are creating a new type of thinking - part human and part machine - found nowhere else on the planet or in history.

Web begins from its newborn stage. After more than 10 years, it finally comes to the pre-school stage. The lack of creative thinking of machines is thus understandable. In essence, are there many people who care about what newborns think? Even after they become pre-school kids, we still often neglect what they think because their thinking can barely bring any value to the world. Therefore, we have no driving force to implement mechanism to enable machines think.

But this phenomenon is going to change on the next-generation web. We start listening to what elementary-school children think because in this new stage of human life, children do have the capability of producing valuable results based on thinking. Hence it is valuable for us to enable machines think when web evolves to this new stage too. Web evolution is directing to this goal. Kevin will see what he expects becoming reality in the near future (though it must be progressive).

No Web phenomenon is more confounding than blogging. Everything media experts knew about audiences - and they knew a lot - confirmed the focus group belief that audiences would never get off their butts and start making their own entertainment. Everyone knew writing and reading were dead; music was too much trouble to make when you could sit back and listen; video production was simply out of reach of amateurs. Blogs and other participant media would never happen, or if they happened they would not draw an audience, or if they drew an audience they would not matter. What a shock, then, to witness the near-instantaneous rise of 50-million blogs, with a new one appearing every two seconds. There - another new blog! One more person doing what AOL and ABC - and almost everyone else - expected only AOL and ABC to be doing. These user-created channels make no sense economically. Where are the time, energy, and resources coming from?

One fundamental and unique character of human beings is the expection of being immortal. This is the reason why religion only exists among humans but not any other animals. This character, however, is the basic driving force of blogging. Though certainly everyone will pass away eventually, it is still very attractive if we known that we can keep the virtual-self (i.e. our thoughts, beliefs and personal history) forever on the web. "I am not ash in history but a living person that has contributed to the world!" This is an internal voice on almost every one of human beings. Blogging is the current way of allowing normal people to be immortal. But I am confident that it is just a beginning. Virtual clones of us are going to be produced on web and people are going to be enchanted by this type of new technologies.

There is only one time in the history of each planet when its inhabitants first wire up its innumerable parts to make one large Machine. Later that Machine may run faster, but there is only one time when it is born.

You and I are alive at this moment.

Yes, I deeply appreciate for my living in this great time. Now it is another great time period on human history as the time periods about the first and second industrial revolution. We are within a new industrial revolution. There are so many new inventions now, just like what had happened before. Similarly, there are (and will be) many great names both on people and companies in this period. Some of them have already appeared and some others are not yet. Surely we should be glad that we are now living in this greatest time, and may have chances to witness some greatest legends in the history.

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