Monday, December 26, 2016

Is the Internet the Garden of Eden or God?





For decades, the internet has provided everyone from professor to trivia experts instant access to information.  What once was,

The internet is molded in our likeness...
The internet flows with falsehoods...
The internet is nebulas a formless ghost of past, present and future...

In the beginning, there was darkness -

...and then there was light...

Connecting the worlds computers offered us access to just about any 'fact' we could imagine - in theory anyone could connect with the source of research, witness news as it happened, or form our own opinion based on easily available information.


In the days before 'shells', the internet was free-form - we connected at the prompt, bumping around in MiRC rooms, and searching with tools like InfoSeek, AltaVista and WebCrawler. Bulletin boards offered asynchronous, yet informative, relationships.

Then came Prodigy, Compuserve, Delphi and finally, America On Line. These communities helped technological neophytes engage the bold, new world. Over night, the sparsely populated playground of nerds flooded with teenager angst and desperate housewives: "Cyber-sex" and "troll" hit the lexicon.

It was great.

From oil changes to Russian political history, if you have a question, the answer was out there on the 'net. Raw. Unedited and sometimes, difficult to find. It was a treasure hunt.

Move forward 20 years and there are 60 trillion webpages using an index 95 of petabytes - nearly twice the size of data mankind created, ever.  But what in the world can 60 trillion webpages tell us?

The internet is full of gossip...
The internet is full of dogma...
The internet is filtered...

Generations of adults have grown up with the internet and google. But now the raunchy and raucous cyberland is settled and gentrified.  Today, proper search engines find what the "collective" wants, not necessarily what we, individually are searching.  Indeed, even when the "powers that be" utilize my unique internet wonderings as my personal baseline, I want what I want right now, not 30 days back.

I am reminded of the time I took a few inner city(Los Angeles) kids for an off-road trip in the San Bernardino mountains.  Every year, a group of young city-dwellers would venture "up the hill" for an all volunteer sponsored trail ride in the forest.  It was our chance to show off the woods and their opportunity to get out of the concrete jungle.

The little girl in my truck was wide eyed.  It was her first time in the mountains.  Her head on a swivel, she innocently asked, "Where do all those trees come from?"

"What do you mean?" I responded.

"Who planted all those trees!?"

I was stunned.

Every tree, bush, or swath of grass this little girl had ever seen was designed, planned, and planted - her environment was completely man-made.

And that's the point - I fear the internet has an overcrowded and hollow wonderland between what we know, and what we strive to understand.  Seductive in design, the results are not organic.

She lived in somebody else's world.

So it is with the newly connected, brave new world.  The masses do not question the virtual until they have the eyes to see the real.  The internet is WestWorld -  fooling us into believing somebody else's vision of reality.

We have willingly removed the distinction between 'virtual reality' and 'reality'. All of our things will be digitally connected.  Someday, we will all be connected through the 'inter webs'.

Is google, God?

The escape, if there is one, resides in the 'old ways'.  The way of the printed, read and repeated word.  Searching for answers in the real world, along the Path.

Storytelling.

Don't get me wrong, the internet is a wild and entertaining place.

It's a shame we'll need to be connected via technology only to discover we've been connected all along.

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