Thursday, November 25, 2010

This is the Internet

This is not an article about how the Internet works. Nor is it an article about where it came from, or its history. It isn’t about the millions of servers and connected devices that make it up, or the kinds of scripts and plug-ins that power the web pages you visit daily, or the web browsers that display them. Sure, that’s what the Internet is, technically, after all is said and done. But as I said, this article is about none of those things. It’s about what the Internet is as a whole and what it represents for the human race. As a whole, the Internet is an easy way for billions of people to connect to perhaps the greatest source of knowledge and literature ever assembled. And this content is visible to roughly a third of the world’s population. Never before has there been a medium extending to that many people. But it isn’t so much the reach of the Internet as it is how accessible it is. While it is true that anyone could write a book, that doesn’t mean anyone will actually see it. Not so on the Internet. If you want to share your opinions on politics or food or music or whatever, you can write something and publish it, with the potential for millions of people to see it. And THAT is what the Internet is about. The Internet’s original purpose was to create and easy way for scientists to share information and files. While it now permeates every aspect of our lives, from entertainment to interacting with other people, at the core information is what the Internet is still about. No stronger example of the power of the Internet can be found than Wikipedia, perhaps one of the largest sources of human knowledge in the world. While it is patrolled and moderated heavily, anyone with sources and information is free to contribute. Blogs like this one allow people to share their own information, people who otherwise would have no voice. And as the Internet continues to grow, the power of the ideas and opinions of millions of people all merging together and being shared will show the power of a global community of ideas. This is the Internet, and information is what it’s all about.

-C. Mancini, a special contributor

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