"To understand what's really happening on the
Internet, you have to get down beneath the commercial hype and hoopla, which
though it gets 90 percent of the press is actually a late arrival. From the
beginning, something very different has been brewing online."
"It has to do with living, with livelihood, with
craft, connection, and community. This isn't some form of smarmy New Age mysticism,
either. It's tough and gritty and it's just beginning to find its voice, its own
direction. But it's also difficult to describe; as the song says, "It's like trying
to tell a stranger about rock and roll." And it's next to impossible to understand
unless you've experienced it for yourself. You have to live in the Net for a while."
- The Cluetrain Manifesto
When my Internet odyssey began in 1994, I immediately
sensed this was not another office Christmas party. People were engaged. They were
talking with each other about anything, and everything; and they were unshackled.
Free from the bondage of tradition. Except for the old-world corporate culture trying to
reinvent television, they still are. The Internet isn't about power and control. It's
about life. Ours.
Ebullient, spiritual, emancipated, cold, hard,
plugged-in life. As one of the author's of the aforementioned book,
says, "We're having a party and the news reports are missing it entirely like
covering the Mardi Gras by reporting on the gross profits of local liquor stores."
Hundreds of thousands of Usenet newsgroups, millions of World Wide Web sites,
billions of human beings being humans.
What is it that makes the Internet so compelling
to so many? Aside from the obvious fun and entertainment, educational and business
opportunities, and show-offism; I think it boils down to a slogan taken from
the eighties. No fear! The playing field is level. Size doesn't matter, really.
Inhibitions and reservations are out the window when that modem begins its rhythmic
chatter. No hidden emotions, just pure, most-times rational thought.
Internet life is people with
diseases and addictions, exposing souls and sharing their
recoveries. It's about overviews of history warning future generations not to repeat
the mistakes of their predecessors. Sure there are a
few kooks to throw us off guard, but mostly the Net is just
us being ourselves
(tag you're it) without fear of reprisal. How refreshing.
The Internet is people talking and sharing
ideas. Our best and brightest, wallflowers and flower children, the
girl next door
and the Doc who delivered your
kids. It's about you and me. We are all using our own cognizant voices, and we're
listening too. We're challenging the status quo, and we're offering alternatives.
Collaboration on a global scale
all tied together by that simplest of cyber friendships, the hyperlink. Communication
has never seen anything like it.
This spirit of community will ultimately be the
lasting legacy of the first fifty years. Not the gazillion millionaires. Not the
top-down control freaks of 20th century industry and guerilla commerce. Instead, it
will be the work-at-home
moms, the redneck artists
and poets, the shy nerds with decades of expression to release. I'm delighted to make
Return to Storytelling index