As I point out in my blog post, Strategy for Our Internet World, the Internet and its attendant hardware and software dominate and this means that we must use the Internet to optimize our effectiveness for betterment. In my writing project, Internet Citizens: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, I show how we can build open Internet networks that optimize our problem-solving abilities. Here’s a draft of the first few paragraphs:
INTERNET DOMINANCE AND PRE-INTERNET DECLINE
The Internet—with its attendant hardware (computers, mobile phones, and the like)[i] and software (e.g. World Wide Web[ii], Google)[iii]—now dominates everything because it’s the most effective and efficient way to access and use information which, these days more so than in the past, is a much more important resource for production, retail, manufacturing, journalism, banking and finance, healthcare, education, communication, entertainment, governance, and everything else[iv]. The Internet dominates everything because it’s the easiest, least costly, and most direct way to do everything.
As a result of Internet dominance, pre-Internet institutions, behaviors and mental states (values, beliefs, and the like) decline or are eliminated[v]. Whatever and whoever “do not have online correlates begin to atrophy, or cease to be relevant”[vi]. Newspapers, their readers and advertisers come to mind, as do symphony and opera companies and their audiences, as well as courts, trade unions, and NGOs. If it’s pre-Internet, it’s unable to effectively handle the problems we face.
Internet dominance and pre-Internet decline mean that if we want to be relevant and optimize our efforts for betterment we have to accept not only the decline or extinction of everything pre-Internet but also the overriding importance of the Internet in all aspects of life; for instance, as James Surowiecki points out, in the economy: “digitization is remaking the economy. . . . Digital innovation can even shrink G.D.P.: Skype has reduced the amount of money that people spend on international calls, and free [sic[vii]] smartphone apps are replacing stand-alone devices that once generated billions in sales. The G.P.S. company Garmin was one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. Thanks to Google and Apple Maps, Garmin’s sales have taken a severe hit”[viii]. Internet dominance requires us to work within the Internet and utilize its processes and structures. We must be online; otherwise we marginalize ourselves.
It’s easy to welcome, as I do, the eclipse of the pre-Internet and the positive potential of the Internet’s imperatives when we realize that diminishment and extinction of institutions, behaviors, and mental states that prevailed at one time and their replacement by significantly different varieties have happened before and are advances in betterment. The Ice Age was supplanted by the Stone Age, followed by Copper, Bronze, and Iron. Similarly, Agrarian society faded; its farms, farmers, and farming replaced by Industrial society’s factories, laborers and owners, and mass production. Now it’s the Internet Age[ix] and what’s different about it is not just that it’s fundamentally different from the preceding era (of course it is!) but also the vastly increased speed by which these differences occur and their tremendously larger scope. In the Internet Age, in contrast to previous times, everything everywhere changes faster than before.
[i] Computers and other hardware are discussed on pp. xx….
[ii] Whereas the Internet is a network structure, the Web is software, links (actually, “an environment of links”) that runs “within” the Internet. Gardner Campbell, “The Web is not the same as the Internet, and why that matters”. http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/?p=2080 Accessed 10/31/2013
[iii] Software is discussed on pp. xx….
[v] McLuhan, GG, p. 56.
[vi] Crary, 24/7, p. 59.
[vii] Nothing is free. Complimentary apps are not free in the sense that in order to receive them, as well as to use them, recipients must pay for computer hardware and software. Also, nothing is free because “everything is a transfer of energy. . . . just because something is free (monetarily) doesn’t mean it’s free (energetically). Time is money. And money is a paper representation of an energetic transaction”. [“Why Nothing Is Free (Even Free Stuff)” http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2010/11/21/why-nothing-is-free-not-even-free-stuff/ ] Accessed 2/3/2014
[viii] James Surowiecki, “Gross Domestic Freebie”, The New Yorker (Nov. 25, 2013), p. 46.
[ix] Bill Gates defines the Internet Age as a time when the Internet and related technologies connect people to information, resources, and to each other. Bill Gates, “Shaping the Internet Age” http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/exec/billg/writing/shapingtheinternet.aspx