In the beginning there was an idea to share information and seeds of the internet were born sometime in the 1960’s. Segue to the early 1990’s and there is altavista & webcrawler for search engines, no advertisements and the start of the internet for everyone. There were modems that worked over the telephone line and squealed their functionality with signature precision. They were slow, but the internet didn’t need speed back then as it was mostly text based information. Then it all began to change: AOL, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook and the people didn’t really want information, they wanted to socialize. That was the real revolution of the internet.

The_internet-2007

The Internet (c. 2007)

 

The_Internet-2010

The Internet (c. 2010)

 

The_Internet-2013

The Internet (c. 2013)

 

Interesting from a certain viewpoint (don’t think physicality in the construction similar to the continents, but where you are and where you go to online based on the map designations). In this sense, it’s another travel dimension of sorts! It’s rather like the the maps you see in the Age of Discovery in the centuries past when men explored the world in sailing ships. The maps were crude at first but became more refined over time. There is a perspective here to be appreciated and that is the following: All things human begin from the fundamental to the advanced – that is how our species learns and understands. We seem to be better at this in some ways, especially technology, but not so good in other ways, especially getting along with each other.

A final comment: The internet is capable of breaking down barriers like class, religion and wealth and everyone can participate (in principle). The reality is that the human species does not use the brain it has developed and the instances of this are too numerous to mention in the thousands of years of civilization. Although Carl Sagan did not live to see the full potential of the internet age, I like what he had to say about humanity in general – The Frontier Is Everywhere:

We were hunters and foragers. The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth, and the ocean, and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little terraqueous globe as the madhouse of those hundred thousand millions of worlds. We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds; are we to venture into space?

By the time we are ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems, we will have changed. The simple passage of so many generations will have changed us; necessity will have changed us. We are… an adaptable species. It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths, and fewer of our weaknesses; more confident, farseeing, capable and prudent.

For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness. What new wonders undreamt of in our time, will we have wrought in another generation, and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered, by the end of the next century, and the next millennium?

Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds through the solar system, and beyond, will be unified, by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the universe, come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross, before we found our way.

References:
The internet 2007 – http://xkcd.com/256/
The Internet 2010 – http://xkcd.com/802/
The Internet 2013 – http://jaysimons.deviantart.com/art/Map-of-the-Internet-1-0-427143215
Carl Sagan – The Pale Blue Dot

 

 

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