The Internet, and its child, the World Wide Web, are endlessly fascinating entities. In no other way would I be able to play a game, talk with friends, order food, shop for clothing, research a paper, and do my banking – all at the same time, while sitting in my jammies in the comfort of my own home drinking tea and with my choice of music as background noise. I don’t know about you, but grocery store muzak is conducive to nothing that I can deem good.
One of the things I find most amazing about the WWW, in particular, is the endless variety and creativity of the people who use it. It’s given many people a voice and a creative outlet that they couldn’t otherwise have had; artistic, aesthetic, and more functional talents aren’t always able to express themselves in the more traditonal mediums. Maybe Joe can’t paint, but Joe can create a stunning visual graphic, and the programming to manipulate it in various ways.
And that’s another beauty of the WWW – its interactivity. It’s not a passive medium; it’s a medium where many of us do go just to look, but where many of us are also invited to participate, to share.
Certainly there’s a lot of detritus floating around that nebulous, electronic ether, but that can be said of any large grouping of people anywhere. All communities have their good sides and their bad. Yet, in the case of the World Wide Web, I think the good far outweighs some of the bad.
The WWW has given me opportunities that I’d never have had before, and opened doors for me that couldn’t have been opened without it. The very act I’m engaging in right now, for example, the writing and publishing of this article, would not have been possible before. My words might have remained obscure, tucked away in a private journal that no one but a few friends might ever have seen.
The WWW has also given me a new lease on edcuation; introducing me to, and helping me to continue with, something that I felt seriously lacking in my life – a university degree. It wasn’t possible at a more traditional school, but the web gave me AU.
The WWW has allowed me to travel: to see the painted pigs of Seattle (http://www.pigsonparade.com/), to see Churchill’s underground bunker (http://www.nyclondon.com/blog/archives/2004/09/19/churchills_secret_underground_bunker_paddock.blog), and to share in the travels of others (http://www.ballofdirt.com/) ; to further my knowledge about diverse topics: about word recognition (http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition.aspx), the plight of other human beings (http://www.antislavery.org/homepage/antislavery/trafficking.htm), and even mirages (http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/GF/mirages/mirintro.html). The web has also shown me the diversity of the human creative spark: from the questionably good or tasteful (http://www.thriftstoreart.com/), to the truly sublime (http://exoteric.roach.org/).
But the WWW would not be the WWW if it weren’t for sharing, and that, as I said, is one of the most wonderful things about it. It’s not merely that I can go out and find such amazing examples of human diversity, but also that I can share them with you. And I hope that you find the wideness of the web to be as fascinating as I sometimes do.