I’m probably the most wired person I know. At any given time, I have three Google Docs shooting back and forth between various editors, four different chat systems being filtered through one window, and I’m searching through memberships on various websites for new music, new jobs and interesting information. Finding yourself living in the middle of a forest at one a.m. on any given day makes you need to reach out in any way available to you, often just to prove to yourself that there’s a real world out there past all of the trees and hills.
Of course, surrounded by trees and streams, you think about the end of the world a lot. Well, maybe you don’t, but I do. I’ve convinced myself that if the events of 2012 are going to be anything at all, it’s going to be a slow shift in human consciousness. A spiritual reawakening, if you will.
I know, it’s easy to dismiss saving the Earth and actually being nice to people as hippie bullshit, but we’re living in a time when we have a fairly accurate barometer of human behavior available to us in the form of the Internet. As we evolve from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0, we’re given an excellent window into human consciousness, if we know how to understand it.
Here’s a quick summary of the different types of Web, if you’re not as dedicated to Internet nerdery as I am:
Web 1.0: “Hey, this Internet thing is pretty awesome. Animated GIFs are the best thing ever. Let’s sell stuff on it and look at naked ladies.”
Web 2.0: “The Internet is easy! Let’s vomit our every thought and inclination onto it in a confusing miasma of useless bile, because the Internet is of the people. Also, naked ladies—I hope doing something gross.”
Web 3.0: “Hey, we fucked up the Internet! Let’s fix it by making sense of all of this crap that people have been spewing onto it for the past 10 years. Let’s keep the naked ladies, though.”
While Web 3.0 hasn’t exactly arrived yet, there are many people actively working on developing the software that can intelligently determine which information is relevant to you as a user, eschewing the extraneous. There’s always the argument that we, as intelligent creatures, should possess the skills to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, but the sheer volume of mislabeled and misleading information that’s been propagated in the fields of the Internet changes the metaphor entirely. It’s like separating the wheat from the chaff, people dressed like animals, erection pills, The Jersey Shore, videos of monkeys doing obscene things to frogs, bacon and outright lies. Google’s complicated algorithms attempt to sort these things out as our lexicon becomes increasingly muddied, but these organizational systems are tweaked by human hands and minds which have the ability to contextualize everything, so this system is inherently as imperfect as we are.
What matters is that we’re trying. If the Internet is a mirror of who we are and what we want, it’s currently a reflection of the gross excess that we’ve embraced, and the self-destruction that it’s begun to catalyze. We’re messing up our planet, we’re messing up our lives, and we’re messing up the Internet to a point where it’s becoming unusable. This is our consciousness. If we’ve swung from our Web 1.0 ego directly into our Web 2.0 id, then Web 3.0 represents us finally reaching a point where our superego allows us to function in a way that can sustain itself.
The Internet as we know it has only been around for less than 20 years, and we haven’t developed the intellectual capacity to fathom what it is and what it can do. Excited by this shiny new toy, we’ve driven it for a million miles without giving it any sort of tune-up. The idea that we’re trying to implement these positive ideas now is positive, and if I’m allowed to be optimistic about it, I hope that this realignment of purpose throughout this mirror of us is an indication that we’re also realigning ourselves towards something new and self-sustaining in a far more tangible way.
You've been an excellent addition to Splice, Mr. David. And this article was thought-provoking. But one question: after describing, in essence, what fools we are at using, contributing and processing information on the Internet, where does your conclusion of optimism come from?