This thing we call the Internet and its evolving subset, Weblogging (blogging), can create pathways of interaction undreamed of only a few years ago. I make my living as a technical writer and I was writing hypertext information systems in the DOS world, so I have been interacting with computers as an information medium for a long time. However, the ability of our current connectivity, still in its infancy, to cross barriers of time, space, and personal knowing constantly surprises me.
Earlier this afternoon I posted a comment on the blog of an commentator, author, and blogger I have enjoyed reading ever since I discovered him on WND.com (WordNetDaily). His name is Vox Day and he is a self-described Libertarian who has a acerbic wit that sometimes, at least for me, walks the edge of his Christianity. I like him. I like him a lot, while at the same time often being vexed by Vox (I know a bad pun, but what the heck).
What’s my point you ask? Well Vox took my comment and answered it as a detailed reply on his blog. That is remarkable. He doesn’t know me, yet we have dialoged across space and time with thousands of others listening in and then having at it with their own comments. The motivation was an exchange of ideas and opinions, thrust and parry with an immediacy never before possible.
My friend and former associate, who now works at Microsoft and I used to say “It’s hypertext stupid”, putting a twist on the Clinton election strategy. I wrote Paul the other day that the democratization of hypertext was underway and it was in the blogging world that it was being mainstreamed. People were growing accustomed to being interconnected and I submit this as an example of George Landow’s visions passing from the esoteric into the mundane.
On another but connected concept, one of my early mentors, Neil Larson, talked alot about information annealing and how hypertextual interaction created the right kind of atmosphere for that to happen. Biblically, two passages come to mind: Proverbs 10:21 ” The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.” and Proverbs 11:14 ” For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” Good, well-thought bloggers who feed each other’s thinking along with responsible comments are an organic web of information annealing, meeting any of Neil’s lofty 90’s standards and fitting within the premises of Proverbs best hopes. Distance or even previous association are no longer an issue. Access is almost instant and the web of connectivity means thoughts fly across space and time with devastating quickness. It is almost impossible to hide anything of consequence for very long and thoughts on any major event anneal with remarkable speed as writers and reactors push and pull the limits of an event until no thought is left unturned.
We have only begun to see the effects of this interconnected mindset. It will be an interesting few months as we approach our first national election as a relatively connected populace. What this holds for the future is beyond my prognostication ability, but one thing I am absolutely sure about, it will take turns almost no one expects. We do indeed live in interesting times.
Update: I have come back to this post after three years (thanks to a reader) and still find the issue compelling. It is remarkable how easily I can interact with friends around the world, and through this blog with total strangers, some of whom have become distant friends, whom I someday hope to meet in person. We are only at the beginning of this interconnectivity, and yes it has its dark side, but like most tools, it is what you use it for and the potential for good and growth is outstanding.