Life, the Universe and the state of the Net

Over the last month or so there has been an interesting thread reoccurring in conversations with my co-workers, students and friends in the biz. It goes something like this…“Have we lost sight of what the net is really all about?”

Remember back in the early 90’s when the online community was really excited about sharing information? Everything was virgin territory and the sense of exploration was high? The good old days of the BBS? Man, I miss that.

Sure there are some really slick online gathering places like Habbo Hotel, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Now don’t get me wrong here. If you look closely you will often find me hanging out in a corner chatting with friends from around the world. But somehow large sites like that can just feel too big and commercial. And while part of me longs for the past another part of me is eagerly looking towards the future wondering what is yet to be uncovered.

So what is the Net? Or as I hear the words of my friends echo through my head “What is the purpose of the net?” In its purest sense it was all about sharing information. Ok, fair enough that seems obvious, but I will challenge you with a question. Look at your surfing habits. Have they changed over time? It used to be that I would surf for hours on end. Literally following a stream of consciousness through sites, exploring and uncovering things I may never have otherwise seen. Now I hop on, type in a few URLs, check my email and repeat the process. Are we simply overwhelmed with the size and amount of information that is out there? Or is it something else?

Lets take a step back into the past again… back when the net was all about links. HTML in its purest sense, Tim Berners Lee, Mosaic… you get the picture. Have we lost that fluidity, or is it coming full circle? As Luke mentioned a while back there are some interesting things going on with file sharing networks like Gnutella.

Don’t get me wrong here I am a big proponent of change and all things must evolve. I am just left scratching my head wondering, “What happened in the last few years?” “Where is this all going?”

Think about it… really think about it…. you, me, Luke, my co-workers, my students… _we_ are the future of the net. We are the ones shaping it.

So guys… where do you want to take it?

-Kristen

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