Scallywag

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

~ Benjamin Franklin ~

What the Web Is And What It Isn’t

December 29th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 46 secs

How should we view the Web?

The way some people talk about the World Wide Web you could be forgiven for thinking it’s the greatest thing to happen to humanity. Never have people been able to connect with so much information Now in a real sense, it doesn’t matter where you live. If you have something worth sharing, the Internet will let you.

Want to buy ugg boots in Australia but your home is in New York? No problem. Perhaps you want an Aussie RM Williams shirt yet you live in London. Or, you desire something contemporary and stylish from France. Thanks to the Web, it’s a mere click and credit card flick away.

Supposing you want to share an idea with others with similar interests. The Web makes it easy with dozens of online social networks (and, yes, I’m on Facebook at Happy.fm by the way). So day-to-day communication today can flow freely around the world, thanks to this incredible network.

In the same way, scientific and academic information can be shared in an instant anywhere, which is a remarkable advance. Now, experts in their respective fields can use the convenience of the Web to solve problems requiring the brightest of minds worldwide. Equipped with so many communication options, we’re now spoilt for choice. Which also means, we are still trying to figure out which are the best ways to express what we want to say.

But the Web isn’t everything and that also deserves to be said. For every action, there is an equal opposite, and the Internet is no exception.

Relationships need intimacy and while the Web will do, it isn’t exactly the ideal medium. As ever, the best is time together, skin-to-skin. Real world contact is the ideal medium. Yet, the more we immerse ourselves in a cyber world of ebuddies and relationships of convenience, the less we allow real world touch (which is not a luxury, but a necessity).

Promoting the Web as the answer to everything applies the same kind of hucksterism that sold bottles of snake oil by the crateful. Hype sells. But it also distorts and, ultimately, disappoints.

The biggest thing since sliced bread is that we can communicate with each other. The Web, for all its technical capacity, is only the vehicle for the marvel of this amazing human trait.

A synthetic experience is and will remain just that. Despite the World Wide Web’s cleverness, it isn’t a touch on real experience. That’s fine, of course. So long as we understand that’s the case.

Likewise, people growing up today ought to know that online information isn’t complete. Books by the million aren’t represented, and vast sums of knowledge will never be on the Web. Ever. And as for what is there, much of it is so hard to find, it might as well not be. Despite their prodigious abilities, Google and other search engines only offer a partial experience of what can be found, and it’s good to remember that.

Nevertheless, the Web’s appeal is the package, isn’t it? Want to know something? Just key it in and off you go. Never mind what it hasn’t got, the Internet has lots. So much in fact, that we are becoming dependent on the Web and, gradually, it’s getting harder to manage without it.

Ideally, we should all be clever users of Web-based technologies. Yet, I also feel we should retain enough independent thinking to manage happily in its absence. We can practice that by spending plenty of time with people in the real world, enjoying nature, having rich experiences, and expressing ourselves in hands on activity.

The more options we give ourselves, the less beholden we become to any one vehicle (like the Web), which makes sense. Because, being versatile and experienced gives us the freedom to appreciate the best of everything. Enjoy!

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