Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Internet- Our New Best Friend

I think what astonishes people the most is how human technology can be. In the book Computer Lib/Dream Machines by Ted Nelson, Nelson accuses people of categorizing computers as “dull” and “sterile” machines that can only perform mundane tasks. He wants to people to get friendly with computers because this will enable computers to reach their full potential. Tim Berners-Lee also envisioned very human relationships with computers, and thus his idea for the internet was born. It was supposed to be a system that could work like a brain and could make connections between people’s thoughts, like a synapse. Not everyone in the world is as comfortable as these two men are with the idea that computers can be so human. In the article, “Art After 2.0” by Lev Manovich, Manovich poses the idea that the internet has shifted gears since the ‘90s and is now mostly a communication medium. Whether his views are neutral or not, they do show that the human machines that Ebbers-Lee and Nelson envisioned are now becoming a reality. Not only does the internet now sometimes know us better than we know ourselves (hello, Facebook?), but we can connect to other people better than we have ever been able to connect before via blogs, YouTube, chat, photo websites, and many more. Perhaps one of the first people foresee the scary side to the internet was Josh Harris, who, in the ‘90s, created a hotel with residents in which the residents were filmed at all times, even their most private moments. Near the end of this experiment the tenants seemed to be going crazy, claiming that they felt like they had “lost themselves” due to the constant observance. Whether we will lose ourselves completely to technology in the future still remains to be seen, but the reality is that the internet has now become the brain-like organism that Berners-Lee once envisioned. Now all it needs is a body.


  1. I agree 100% with the idea that technology has become so human. It essentially is human because it can answer questions you may have about anything. It's scary how something made out of cords and metals can be so human. It is also scary how much the internet know about people. Of course facebook is a big culprit of this but it's still freaky. You can google yourself and it's shocking to find the things you have been linked to in the past. The amount of information stored on the internet from the past is absolutely mind boggling to me. It's hard to wrap my head around.

  2. When Tim Berners-Lee was coming up with his ideas about the world wide web, email and networked computers were all about exchanging military information or used by banks and utilities to record electricity use. It's been a long road to get to the point of companies making cute little laptops with wireless connections that let us communicate with friends and family or research something that we're curious about. The most terrifying thing may be the server farms that use vast amounts of electricity and store all this information we are putting out there including our blogs. Google may have the hugest server farm of them all...

  3. I riffed on the idea of the humanity of computers in my own blog post. See my post for a response to this post :)