A minor epiphany this weekend, courtesy of my friend Peter Rukavina and a post on his weblog about cowboys. Peter writes:
It’s how the web changes how we think about the world that interests me.
I think that some of the ways the Internet is organized (decentralized, ubiquitous, anarchic, open source) and some of the the ways weblogs are constructed (interconnected, distributed, personal, opinionated) have inspired me (and others, including Rob, I think) to realize that we can do other things ” things that perhaps we’ve always done in a top-down, centralized, expensive, carefully controlled, closed source way ” differently.
For example, the Zap Your PRAM conference. This conference had no outside funding, no advertising, required no meetings to organize. And yet we had people from three countries gather in one place, almost spontaneously, for an interesting weekend of discussion.
Exactly! I wonder where I would be had I not found the world of technology and the web. Part of me pictures a utopia where I read more and spend all of my time with family and friends. The reality would probably involve watching a lot more television.
I’m not suggesting that the web saved me from a life of mediocrity. However, when you look at some of the fundamental ideas behind the web, a system where the power lies at the ends and there is no real centralization, it is easy to see how this could affect your general mindset.
Imagine a child who grows up in an environment where television is the primary medium. They are unlikely to ever be involved in the production of any television, or even to have a venue to provide input into what is broadcast beyond their commercial buying habits. Those involved with the production of television are distant and inaccessible celebrities.
Contrast this with a child who grows up where the web is the primary medium. They have a weblog, they read the weblogs, emails, and instant messages as much as any commercial media. They have access to the producers of much of the media they consume. In many cases the word consume is inadequate to describe the activity and participate may be a better term.
The ideology behind the world in which you develop must have a strong influence over how you see the world. The ideas behind the web have had a strong influence over my world. It’s not just about hardware and software. It’s about ideas.