“In only a few short years, electronic computing systems have been invented and improved at a tremendous rate. But computers did not ‘just grow.’ They have evolved… They were born and they are being improved as a consequence of man’s ingenuity, his imagination… and his mathematics.” — 1958 IBM brochureAmplify’d from www.smashingmagazine.com
The Internet is a medium that is evolving at breakneck speed. It’s a wild organism of sweeping cultural change — one that leaves the carcasses of dead media forms in its sizeable wake. It’s transformative: it has transformed the vast globe into a ‘global village’ and it has drawn human communication away from print-based media and into a post-Gutenberg digital era. Right now, its perils are equal to its potential. The debate over ‘net neutrality’ is at a fever pitch. There is a tug-of-war going on between an ‘open web’ and a more governed form of the web (like the Apple-approved apps on the iPad/iPhone) that has more security but less freedom.
An illustration of a computer from a 1958 IBM promotional brochure titled ‘World of Numbers’
So what’s the next step in its evolution, and what’s the big picture? What does the Internet mean as an extension of human communication, of the human mind? And forget tomorrow — where will the web be in fifty years, or a hundred? Will the Internet help make the world look like something out of Blade Runner or Minority Report? Let’s just pray it doesn’t have anything to do with The Matrix sequels, because those movies really sucked.
This article will offer in-depth analysis of a range of subjects — from realistic expectations stemming from current trends to some more imaginative speculations on the distant future.
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