Edge. org asks a question annually of many very intelligent people. This years question is HOW HAS THE INTERNET CHANGED THE WAY YOU THINK?
Dawkins was with us when the Internet arrived.
Evolutionary Biologist; Emeritus Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, Oxford; Author, The Greatest Show on Earth
If, forty years ago, the Edge Question had been "What do you anticipate will most radically change the way you think during the next forty years?" my mind would have flown instantly to a then recent article in Scientific American (September 1966) about 'Project MAC'. Nothing to do with the Apple Mac, which it long pre-dated, Project MAC was an MIT-based cooperative enterprise in pioneering computer science. It included the circle of AI innovators surrounding Marvin Minsky but, oddly, that was not the part that captured my imagination. What really excited me, as a user of the large mainframe computers that were all you could get in those days, was something that nowadays would seem utterly commonplace: the then astonishing fact that up to 30 people simultaneously, from all around the MIT campus and even from their homes, could simultaneously log in to the same computer: simultaneously communicate with it and with each other. mirabile dictum, the co-authors of a paper could work on it simultaneously, drawing upon a shared database in the computer, even though they might be miles apart. In principle, they could be on opposite sides of the globe. MORE...
Dave Morin has lived his entire life with the Internet.
Internet Entrepreneur; Co-Inventor, Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect
CONTEXT IS KING
My generation is the first generation that has lived their entire lives with the Internet. The Internet is how we think. We have developed a way of thinking that depends on being connected to an ever changing graph of all the world’s people and ideas. The Internet helps to define, evolve, and grow us. The Internet is social. The Internet is a way of life. The Internet provides context.
Because I have lived most of my life with the Internet, it has been the increasing the addition of new contexts which has been the thing which has most changed the way I think. In the beginning, the Internet was a giant mess of unstructured, unorganized, identity-free data spread across un-connected computers all over the world.
Then things started to change. Organizations and companies began to structure and provide context to the documents and data housed in this expanding network of the world’s computers.
Opening, connecting, and organizing the information on the world’s computers has enabled us to search for the answers to our most important questions and to provide more context to the information in our lives.
Once the world’s information was put into context, we looked beyond the keyboard, and collectively shifted to people. We focused on social context by asking questions like: Who are you? How are we connected? What is on your mind? What matters to you?
Making the Internet more social enabled people to share their real name, likeness, voice, and the things that they are connected to. Now we always have an understanding of who is talking, who and what they are connected to, what they are saying, and to whom; through understanding identity and social context we have achieved greater openness as a society.
In the future, the challenge will be continuing to add new contexts and improve existing ones in order to help people live better, happier, lives. So that no matter where you are, what you are doing, who you are with, or what you are thinking, it is always in context.