Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Relfection on "We Are The Web"

Summary: In this article, author Kevin Kelley gives us glimpses of the internet’s timeline thus far: past, present, and future. Kelley starts off recalling the early days of the internet, his experience in watching it begin to rise from the ground and the heavy amount of criticism/pessimism the internet faced in the mid-1990’s. Kelley continues by recalling the growth of the internet since then, represented in the amount of tools we have at our dispense now, as well as the audience’s newfound ability to make their own entertainment. Kelley continues on into the near future, tossing out the varied theories of the intellectual community about what lies ahead in the world wide web: a community without consumers, of a solitary computer running the internet, and the extinction of the familiar desktop.

Response: As much as I enjoyed the glimpses of Internet’s past Kelley provided, I was turned off by his masturbatory personality that popped in and out of his writing early on in the article, describing his personal instance with ABC, who didn’t listen to his “dire” warning of purchasing a domain URL as soon as possible.
The matter-of-fact tone he used when describing the foolishness of those who doubted the internet’s arrival seemed unprofessional for a writer who was attempting a critical analysis of the internet timeline, as can be seen here:
“Where's Cliff Stoll, the guy who said the Internet was baloney and online catalogs humbug? He has a little online store where he sells handcrafted Klein bottles.”
You can almost hear Kelley’s nasally giggling as he punches the keys: “I sure showed them.”
But I cannot deny this article provided some interesting insight for a college student who really didn’t give a shit when the internet first emerged.
The idea of some massive, hive-minded “god” computer somewhat surprised me, offered an idea that I never really thought could be applied to the internet, a web built by millions of small hard drives and their sole supporters. Kelley undoubtedly expresses excitement over the idea that our entire world connection, and perhaps even our own hard drives and computer systems, will come to depend entirely on a single eclipsing machine, of which we would view through our monitors. Kelley describes its growth, comparing it to the neural pathways of a brain, always growing with every incident, or in the case of this massive machine, every click.
When Kelley mentioned that this machine would take to recognize human faces with the millions of postings and name links, my feeling of concern first blossomed. When he continued, talking about how such a device would make decisions about what the human race wanted, based on what we search for, the true horrifying image came about: could such a machine achieve self-awareness? With such capabilities and a information shower that never ceased, James Cameron movies have made me see such a machine as nothing but evil incarnate, a being fully uniting the world before completely deleting every connection and every user for the sake of it’s own magnificent survival.
Or perhaps Kelley's optimistic prediction will be fulfilled, and the super-machine will win Time Magazine's "Person of the Year", and families will skip the Grand Canyon just to go see the great black box of information.

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