The Inception of the Social Web

Posted by david on 21 March 2018 at 12:31 am

Our story begins like no other: a message is typed on one computer and then sent to another. It wasn't even sent to another person. When Ray Tomlinson sent that first email in 1971, to himself, he began something that has forever changed the world.  It was before the Internet, but it was a step, a step among many beginnings that has shaped the digital world in which we live.

Philosophically, every action has an effect, an affect, and a return.  We are finite beings and we see the world in a finite plain, but the reality is beginning is infinite and end is infinite. The digital world we live in provides infinite possibilities, but we are so consumed by the finite now, that we lose sight of the beginnings and the ends.

The Internet today is seen as a few conglomerate services provided by seemingly infinite corporations. The Internet is Facebook or YouTube. It's Google. It's Netflix. It's Amazon. I remember when it was Compuserve. It was AOL. It was MySpace. It was Digg. It was Yahoo! We built PHPBB forums for our friends. We built GeoCities web pages. It was infinite, it was beginnings. 

We look at what we have today and we think, "this is it, this is what we wanted." Just as we did when we signed into AOL or committed our code to CVS. That wasn't it, it was only what we had. This isn't it either, it's just what we have. The Internet is changing as much now as it ever has, we are infinitely on the cusp of what we want it to be. One day we will look back at the Internet we have now and marvel as much as we can looking back today. 

The future of the Internet isn't a single social network. Facebook is not the end, at least not the only end. It's just a beginning of many beginnings. We have come too far for that to be true and we haven't gone nearly far enough. The future of the web is social, just as one of the first beginnings was when Ray Tomlinson sent himself an email across a room. 

The inception of the social web is upon us, we are on the cusp of what we want. We don't need a social network to build it, we are the conglomerate, we are the social web and what we build will only be a beginning.


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