Filed under: Art + Religion, Science + Tech, Society + Media | Tags: Apple, Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End, Did you know?, Enlightenment, environment, facebook, Google, grok, information, internet, knowledge, media, new media, Robert Heinlein, singularity, technology, web 2.0, world wide web, Zen Buddhism
What is this thing we call the Internet?
No, really. What is it?
We use it every day. Networking sites like Facebook let people access anyone, anywhere, in seconds. Google sorts and organizes more words and ideas in a minute than any human can hope to process in her life. Dazzling fortunes are made, used and wasted; overwhelming games and images are developed and stored; trillions of stories are told.
This thing, this Internet, didn’t even exist 30 years ago. Now, it permeates our media environment. It is the purest manifestation of Enlightenment humanism, an endless library of human knowledge. Anything and everything mankind has known and recorded probably waits in there like an apple in the Garden, waiting to be plucked and digested by some enterprising individual. It is collective human consciousness, literally resting in the palm of your hand.
Watch this video. You’ll like it.
Internet breakthroughs, like all technology, advance exponentially. Where is this all leading us?
Some, such as the believers in the Singularity, would say knowledge and resultant technology are advancing to an impossible point where all knowledge will unite in a single ego, and individuality will cease (like at the end of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End.) Admittedly, the idea is a little crazy… but so is the idea that Christ died for our sins, or that Energy might equal Matter times the Speed of Light, squared. Right?
Is the Singularity what the Internet is moving us toward? Perhaps… If so, I think we’d all do well to keep our eyes on that sneaky bugger.
But then, maybe, as Zen Buddhists would tell you, all technology is insignificant. Perhaps the Internet simply is, just as a rock simply is, or a picnic lunch simply is, and the responsible human should relax, observe and contemplate it (try to grok it, to use the words of another ridiculously nerdy author for me to be referencing). After all, humans spend so much time altering their environment…
This spring break, let your environment alter you.
Justin Leverett is done for the week. Shabbat shalom, y’all 🙂
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