(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Kevin Kelly's 'We Are The Web'

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
In Wired 13.08 (August 2005) Kevin Kelly wrote "We Are the Web", but I missed it. Three months later the article has been re-edited and re-order and appears in today's Age as "Unto us the Machine is born", a somewhat more ambiguous title. In a nutshell, Kelly argues that the producerly tendancies of participatory culture will see everyone contributing to what is effect is a huge artificial consciousness: the web. Perhaps it's the Jungian overtones I'm uncomfortable with, but I'm not 100% sold on the metaphor. However, I think the idea is certainly useful and provocative. It's also extreme quotable ...

On the future:
What happens when the data flow is asymmetrical - but in favour of creators? What happens when everyone is uploading far more than they download? If everyone is busy making, altering, mixing and mashing, who will have time to sit back and veg out? Who will be a consumer? No one. And that's just fine. A world in which production outpaces consumption should not be sustainable; that's a lesson from economics 101. But online, where many ideas that don't work in theory succeed in practice, the audience increasingly doesn't matter. What matters is the network of social creation, the community of collaborative interaction that futurist Alvin Toffler called prosumption. As with blogging and BitTorrent, prosumers produce and consume at once. The producers are the audience, the act of making is the act of watching, and every link is both a point of departure and a destination.
On what Google and Yahoo understand, and Microsoft is in the process of realising:
By 2015, desktop operating systems will be largely irrelevant. The web will be the only OS worth coding for. It won't matter what device you use, as long as it runs on the web OS. You will reach the same distributed computer whether you log on via phone, PDA, laptop, or HDTV.
On BitTorrent:
Today, the poster child of the new internet regime is BitTorrent, under which users upload stuff while they are downloading. It assumes participation.
On Wikipedia:
Each time we forge a link between words, we teach it an idea. Wikipedia encourages its citizen authors to link each fact in an article to a reference citation. Over time, a Wikipedia article becomes totally underlined in blue as ideas are cross-referenced. That cross-referencing is how brains think and remember.
On symbiosis, addiction or dependance:
We already find it easier to Google something rather than remember it. The more we teach this megacomputer, the more it will assume responsibility for our knowing. It will become our memory. Then it will become our identity. In 2015 many people, when divorced from the Machine, won't feel like themselves - as if they'd had a lobotomy.
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At 11/15/2005 09:47:00 pm, Anonymous Patrick said...

Oh boy, looks like somebody woke up Wired! Seriously enjoying the good old-fashioned McLuhan-esque hyperbole, the likes of which I haven't seen since the pre-bubble days when I used to have a subscription, before it became a business journal. The current buzz around Web 2.0 reminds me of classic Wired pieces such as "The Long Boom" (oh... how we laughed).

Does it seem to you like the rediscovery of asynchronous javascript and some vague idea of community has awoken all those discredited profiteering prophets of the first wave? Hey, it's cool to come up with ideas that have no discernible income model again! Awesome! Beta!

At 11/16/2005 10:25:00 am, Blogger Grant said...

This is all very cool to read.

At 11/16/2005 04:03:00 pm, Blogger Tama said...

As the Long Boom has met its sober echo in the Long Tail, I suspect this article might be closer to feasible than a lot of the pre-burst technolustiness! :)

At 1/17/2006 08:07:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link between the Web and the human brain is made more often. I find it interesting to extrapolate this idea towards the following: if this earth's brain is starting to get more consciousness, when will it be conscious enough to look outward and start to connect to other worlds with enough 'brains'?


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