Sunday, August 29, 2004

Internet Turns 35

Happy Birthday, Internet!

The most revolutionary change in communication since Gutenberg's printing press turns 35. The printing press touched off revolutions in society, as the spread of knowledge was no longer slowed by the speed of handwriting or subject to the control of gatekeepers. The printing press empowered the masses in a historically unprecedented manner.

The Internet is the next quantum leap, as communication is instant and avaliable to all. Not many have the means to buy their own printing press, but access to the World Wide Web for a month costs the same as a pizza. Just as some were becoming uneasy over the concentration of printed media outlets into fewer and fewer hands, now anyone can share with the world their thoughts on a given topic or publish news that the major media outlets ignored for whatever reason. And as this article shows, the media elite is now reaching apoplexy over the blogosphere. Their judicious decision-making on what is fit to print is completely obsolete as information is now instantly posted to the Web without so much as a by your leave. I feel kind of sorry for this ancien regime; like the French Royalty they are being swept along by a tide they can't comprehend.

The one thing to guard against is attempts, by governments or that unelected, unaccountable wanna-be world government called the UN, to regulate free communication on the Web. If such attempts get serious, it will surely be cast in terms of protecting the public from some menace, rather than curtailing the uppety masses. Or maybe it could be something as simple as a future media conglomorate buying up all the bandwidth and implementing filters of some sort. In any event, the Web is a tremendous blessing and resource, and should be guarded jealously and unconditionally by all who believe in free expression.