The Internet

Reading Response

The idea of the Internet being a way to harness our collective IQ is incredible, and has been discussed in varying ways for a long period of time.  I’ve often heard a similar principle described as the ability to harness the collective knowledge of humanity on an iphone.  But the author argues that ultimately that quantity of information lacks meaning without quality interactions.  It doesn’t really matter if information exists unless you are able to successfully find and access it.  She takes this argument further by positing that we should be able to preview and skim this information more effectively.  Essentially by improving Internet navigation and document interaction, information can be absorbed more efficiently.  This can ultimately open up the Internet in order to bring more quality interaction to the masses, which can help successfully realize the goal of leveraging our collective IQ.  This sort of democratization immediately made me think of Wikipedia, which allows users to contribute their knowledge and expertise to a larger whole, while easily allowing readers to jump to related articles.  The author specifically mentioned Hypothesis as a successful tool for tagging documents for better efficiency and allowing for group annotations (which is certainly another reason to encourage us to take advantage of Hypothesis).

One of the interesting points I noted was the emphasis on the ability to jump around online texts.  Scrolling is an inherently hierarchical way of examining a document.  The process assumes the user starts at the beginning and mechanically works their way down to digest the information.  Essentially the author argues that we should be able to more efficiently skim a document before we decide to fully invest in it.  In this way, one could more easily discard information that isn’t relevant to a particular search, thus helping to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.  Fundamentally the author’s central point is this realization of the ability to harness our collective IQ by using the Internet with greater efficacy.

Philosophical Musings

To me the Internet is ultimately a mode of communication (I mean this in a broader, more awesome sense).  It can honestly serve as one of the main symbols of modern globalization.  It connects the user both to other users (through platforms such as social media) and to knowledge (through journals, encyclopedias, articles, etc.).  Both of these connections have incredible value.

User-to-user interactions allow people with similar interests to discuss and share these interests.  This is often seen in online fandom forums on Twitter, Tumblr, etc.  In this way, individuals can easily share a passion with others scattered across the world.  These interactions can also allow people to be mobilized for political or activist purposes.  The Internet was central to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab Spring.  This potential to connect with others and disseminate ideas is thus especially powerful.

User-to-knowledge interactions are also fascinating.  Answers to questions can be found without moving from our seats.  Electronic archives can be searched using keywords and other attributes to connect us to history as well as current events.  The usage of the Internet as a research tool, both casually and professionally, is ultimately something that I consider to be one of the main advantages of the Internet.  Historically, this ability is unprecedented, and I think this is something we often fail to appreciate.


How would historical figures react to the Internet?

Does the Internet change how we learn?

What is the future of the Internet?

Will the Internet ever become obsolete?




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