Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Did the Internet break its promise?

What did the Internet really promise?

So I'm reading this article that was linkyed here. And it's talking about how the Internet is so big, that people fear it and cluster together in tiny tribes to feel safe. Well, it didn't say that, actually, but it said other stuff that was so painfully obvious that it was, um, painful.

What it really says is that people go where people go. And we all go to the same places and learn the same stuff. And the article argues that the Internet somehow is alive and is burying research it doesn't like, or something.

The author also believes that when you browse through a journal, you often come across information that you weren't necessarily searching for, but could aid your research. You mean like, don't rush through life because you'll miss the important stuff? You mean like, stop and smell the roses? You mean this obvious advice that we all seem to ignore because our time is limited and we all want to be where everyone else is so that we don't seem like losers, so we all rush back and forth to Twitter and Facebook and Boing Boing and Lifehacker so we won't feel left out?

Seriously, what the fuck did anyone expect from the Internet? The Internet never promised anything. We anthropomorphized it like when we think the cat is enjoying watching General Hospital with us. When we watch GH, we have a snack and we give a treat to the cat; that's why she's sitting here! She doesn't give a crap about what's on GH!!! Ooh, Jax did what, Mr. Boots? Oh, my, Carly won't sit for that! More tuna, Mr. Boots? (I have no idea what I just wrote since I don't have a cat and don't watch soaps. But Mr. Boots was my adult film name when I was working my way through college.)

I go online and read the news. I click on Entertainment and read that news. Then I click US News or Tech News or World News. And of course, I click on the Most Popular stories to read the same 42 bits that everyone else reads. Come one, who doesn't know that astronauts are drinking their own urine? And who hasn't heard about the guy suing McDonald's because the naked pictures of his wife that were on his phone ended up on the Internet when the guy on the phone told him he would keep the phone safe and not upload any naked pictures he finds on the phone to the Web: he promised.

But if I picked up a newspaper, I might find other stories that didn't make it into those popular collections of news. And that newspaper might get me interested in other topics that I can then search on the Internet.

See? That was the promise of the Internet, if anything. That it's easy to search. The Internet never promised to make me a better searcher or thinker; it only said, Hey, whatever you're looking for, I can help you find it... if it's in a place that I can find. So if people are more likely to search for what they already know, then why is that the Internet's fault?

Poor, poor Internet, you get blamed for everything. But you're always there when I'm lonely. What? New stuff happened since last night? Oh, tell me!