Posted by: antyx | September 21, 2008

The Internet: The Ulltimate Hypermedium


The Map of The Internet as shown above

Throughout the human history i can note several critical transition points on our ability to express, distribute ideas to each other efficiently to a person to person level. It led to our ability to cooperate and know how to build primitive technology we would rely on our survival. The need of having a way to store and distribute this information led to the formation of written language, making information more resistant to time and  geographical area. These two points in human history were crucial in order to be able to form complex social structures like political, educational and technological systems in society. Written language at first was carved on plates of stone making it somehow an inefficient means of distributing information. With the invention of typography this barrier was brought down and when widely accepted books could be easily carried around making knowledge and information available to almost everyone. This led to the reinvention of science, social sciences and the rebirth of human spirit during the renaissance. This eventually led to an ever increasing development in technology paving its way to the industrial revolution. During the 60’s a new science was born called Informatics. The science of the technologies, teqniques and ways to store, distrubite and transform information on an electronic and electromagnetic level. A cold war bi-product was the network used to distribute this information called the ARPANET, todays internet’s presuccessor. After the end of the cold war during the 90’s this new sophisticated network was commercialized, making it an highly efficient way to distribute information globalwide, ina very short time.

During the first years of its commercial life it was mainly used for e-mailing and viewing static HTML pages through a web browser. The dynamic architecture of this new communication network always succeeds to its constant redefinion of its own form, web technologies and ways people can collaborate and distribute information. Web services we were never able to be predicted became reality like electronic shopping (eBay), collaborative encyclopedias (Wikipedia), collaboratively built software called opensource platforms (Linux, BSD), always surpise us of the numerous possibilities this new hypermedium will provide us in the near future. The quality and quantity of information stored on the internet is growing geometrically. Consumer electronics and computer’s started to become everyday appliances, leading to the mass reduction on the overall manufacturing cost. According to Moore’s law which claims that the computer power doubles every 1,5 year leeds to the reduction of computer power cost throughout time. Today it is feasible to buy a small laptop computer for under 350$ – 300euros. Storage has also become cheap and extremely flexible. Free network storage is also a new phenomenon, where it is able to publish and share large amount of information on the internet (Flickr, Youtube, Box.net, GMail etc). Offcourse there are alternative means of the storage suppliers to earn the cost of network storage through advertising, subscriptions and not charging the storage space directly. Google shows a great ability to buy and hand network storage for free in a mass scale. Complete desktop operating systems like Linux or MacOSX and Windows to a smaller extent, are built in a manner to have a close interconnection with this vast network. A new trend in software platforms like Debian Linux, iPhoneOS installer etc shows that through a well built package and feed catalog, software can be directly installed and used. It automatically updates with any new release and security fixes without almost any human interaction at all.

Offcourse when taking about software platforms we mistakelly think about desktop pc’s or mobile-portble devices. There are many to name Linux, Windows, MacOSX, BSD, Unix (PC Platform) Symbian, iPhone OS, Google Android (Mobile Platform) though we seem to forget to mention the forecoming and possibly dominant platform of the next decades. That is no other that this vast network itself, the internet. It was made because of the need of information distribution between desktop computers during the 70’s. The big turning point through was when the so called Web 2.0 which started after the .com boom in the begining of this decade. Wonderful collaborative and innovative services were formed, expanding the static html web pages into a dynamic and interactive service. Multimedia started to be widely used, apart from pictures and sounds, mainly with the use of the proprietary flash language. AJAX a relatively new web technology, which is opensource as most of the rest web technologies that exist today, shows gret signs of progress into making webpages, application alike. Google services where AJAX is widely used, manage to simulate popular desktop software like mail clients, organizers and calendars, office suites etc. Offoucerse their capabilities are limited compared to a complete office suite, though seem to be widely accepted because they are platform independent and accessible from anywhere. There are also some examples of web services which simulate a desktop OS to a very limited extent though. All these services though are mostly new, have only been around not longer than 5 or 7 years. Web technologies them self are not static as well, and luckily enough seem to evolve in an open manner, constructed one in top of another, mostly at first for practical reasons. As a decentralized network open specifications, on how things work, are crucial on the success of a technology and its wide adoption. Offcourse only time can tell of which web technologies will evolve from the existing ones and which needs will leed them on their creation. Dynamic web laguages for instance were made because there was a need for user interaction, flash because of the need of vector motion graphics and web video etc. The same manner will apply to any new web technology arises. Ofcourse in the internet sphere it is extremely hard for a software vendor to monopolize any given web technology because developers from all over the world which will actually use this web tool in order to construct web services need clear and distinct specifications of how this given technology works.

Appart from the everyday applications, uses and software tools the internet is consisted of, it is an interesting approach when examining the internet as a network itself. It is consisted of interlinks between servers, clients through switches, routers using many communication mediums like fiber optic cables, coper cables, wireless networks, satellite networks etc. Processing units which use this network such as desktop pc’s, servers mobile devices seem to act as a unity altogether, forming a worldwide neural network. This overall processing and storage ability seems to be in many cases redistributed with this network. Offourse when dealing with technology we mostly forget that various technologies have to do with us, humans using them. So in the case of computers, it can be considered as a technical tool to process, store and distrubute information we use in our everyday lifes. This information can consist almost anything from ideas, thoughts, multimedia, structures and pasterns in society. So this network has to do mainly with us and how the product of our intellectual can be stored, distributed, organized, restructured, transformed in order to reshape the impact of our thoughts themselves in everyday pasterns of society. Noosphere, is one expression of this consciousness unification via this new medium as it can be shown in the wikipedia quote below:

In the thought of Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin, the noosphere (sometimes spelled noösphere) can be seen as the “sphere of human thought” being derived from the Greek νούς (“nous”) meaning “mind” + σφαίρα (sfaira) meaning “sphere”, in the style of “atmosphere” and “biosphere.” In the original theory of Vernadsky, the noosphere is the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth, after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life). Just as the emergence of life fundamentally transformed the geosphere, the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere. In contrast to the conceptions of the Gaia theorists, or the promoters of cyberspace, Vernadsky’s noosphere emerges at the point where humankind, through the mastery of nuclear processes, begins to create resources through the transmutation of elements.

For Teilhard, the noosphere is best described as a sort of ‘collective consciousness’ of human-beings. It emerges from the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness. This is an extension of Teilhard’s Law of Complexity/Consciousness, the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, added that the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point—which he saw as the goal of history.

Some examples of how the internet has started to impact society can be found in educational systems, banking systems, everyday communication (IM’s) and has started to impact and threaten traditional mediums like radio, tv and newspapers. Offcourse the internet is in a very, very early stage, with just of 15 years of comercial addoption. It’s use has to do directly with the structures in society itself and always ought be so. The pace of its evolution can be seen in an everyday timescale, which also coresponds with the geomemetrical growth of computing power and storage capacity. Offcourse this system called the internet feeds upon itself and constantly gets rstructured and reorganized. Many science fiction writters i had the chance to read their work, seem to have predicted this new medium far before the initial introdution of the internets presuccesor the ARPANET. I guess it is a indespensible need of an organised society which many had seen so far ago. It is interesting enough to see how Arthur Clarke for instance throough a fiction book managed to predict an far more evovled version of the internet in the 1950’s. In his book “The City and The Stars” hs describes a developed future society that is forced to live underearth. Their own personal space, like our known living rooms are consisted of a floating spheres where personal thoughts and dreams were projected onto its surface. This idea mirror could interconnect with any other person in this city, and physical presense was not needed in order for human interaction. This mind tool could step in any place or time if the user wished to do so. It was unsure even to the people using this mental tool whether it was real or not. To me this which was written 60 years ago, instanstly strikes me as the internet evolved far in the future. This concept was percieved far before digital networks, computers in a home level, mobile phones and all the gismos of consumer technology. It was concieved through the need of our thoughts and mind to interconnect with each other and defy the limits of space and time. Time will show on how this new complex and dynamic system will evolve and how it will be adopted in various social structures. There is a big need of keeping this new medium open, decntralised and uncotroled from certain political, finanical and coorporate control. Offcourse all the above must be a part of this system though it is very important to avoid the shaping of it in strictly their individual intersests.

As usuall i have embeded a small video of the perspective of this new network to evovle in an intelligence itself:

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