Being on/of the Web

September 29, 2014 • Shar-e-fest 2014, Hamilton, New Zealand
October 6, 2014 • The University of Auckland

Audio recording of Shar-E-Fest presentation (Sept 29, 2014)
Audio recording of University of Auckland presentation (Oct 6, 2014)

A Victorian era book,"Enquire Within Upon Everything," embodied the best technology of its time to organize, via a crude hypertext system, a collection of knowledge. In the hands of a young boy growing up in the 1960s, the book inspired a spirit of magic, wonder, and the vision of an open portal to the world of information. When that boy grew up, he invented the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee's original vision for the web was it "being so generally used that it became a realistic mirror of the ways in which we work and play and socialize. That was that once the state of our interactions was on line, we could then use computers to help us analyse it, make sense of what we are doing, where we individually fit in, and how we can better work together."

This year marks the 25th year since the web's invention. Like many long road trips one might ask, "Are we there yet?" The merging of this digital space with what we live and do brings new light to the basic question of who our [digital] self is and alters the nature of what we knew once as expertise. While only a one letter difference between prepositions, a vast gulf lies between the concept of information being *on* the web and our ways of thinking being "of" the web. Explore with me through a two decade lens of web "of-ness" the importance of not only web thinking, maker culture, but also the power of sharing our own digital self-narration. And then maybe, we might be almost there yet.

Sites Mentioned

In 1989...

One Vague But Exciting Idea

Computer Chronicle episode on "What is the Internet" circa 1993

  • Howard Rheingold explaining community building in The Well people helping each other. "You have to remember that in a democratic society people talking to each other is important; we've lost a lot of that in mass media"
  • Steve Weinstein of Bellcore Labs describing internet providers as a source of public information "We're interested in making a more effective public communications network. And by public, we mean open to everyone." An interesting idea that the providers of internet service see information as a public good. Think of your cable company today--- same attitude?
  • NASA's experiments with packet videoconferencing at a data rate of 2 frames per second, extolling the virtue of distance learning and expertise sharing (ahem, MOOCs). "In 3-5 years we expect to put this in every school system in the country."
  • Development of Mosaic as broadening access to internet. Love the NCSA dude saying "it's not rocket science" with jazz hands.
  • Carl Malamud inventor of internet radio citing its virtue of allowing the individual to select what they wanted to listen to (precursor to podcasting)-- but the best line "We want to see the Nina Totenbergs of the world showing up on the internet. We also want the individuals of the world being able to publish themselves" -- a total set up for talking about narrating one's work via blogging
  • Brendan Kehoe answers what is the big deal about the internet.</a> Author of Zen and the Art of the Internet says, "The chief benefit is that it is not owned by one company.... on the internet anyone can put any service on and do anything they want." That is the internet we want, right? maybe ?

Alan's Web Stories

Show/Narrate Your Work