The Two Internet Revolutions

The Internet has fostered at least two revolutions in
communications. Both revolutions created pathways for
conversations that can lead to better understanding among
people.

But first, some background. Although the Internet is very
wide, it is not very tall (although it may be very deep). By
that I mean you don’t have to go through layers of stuff to get
to the top.

A couple of examples: If I link to something interesting
from Doc Searls, he may
see the link and maybe link back. If I write something
interesting and then link to Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble, he may
see it and maybe leaves a comment. Each, albeit small,
conversation probably could never have occurred
pre-Internet.

From a business perspective, compare this to many large
organizations that have layer upon layer insulating and,
perhaps, filtering what is going on outside their respective
companies. It is seductively easy to believe only what
your employees are telling you. But many times, what they are
telling you and what your customers are saying are two very
different things. We need to remember that what they are saying
is but one lens into seeing the totality of reality.

Now, on to the revolution! The first revolution of the
Internet was e-mail. E-mail not only allowed communication in
all directions from all directions, it encouraged it.
That is, it created a pipeline directly to the person you
wanted to reach. For the first time, anyone could start a
conversation with anyone else (at least until people started
filtering e-mail). These conversations created opportunities
for new ways of understanding our world.

The second revolution of the Internet is the web. The web
takes conversations a step further in that it can be one-to-one
and one-to-many. A different kind of conversation to
be sure. But nonetheless a valuable one. For the first time,
individuals had forums to reach wide audiences. With this
greater reach came the opportunity for even more conversations
and therefore more ways of understanding.

I don’t know what the next Internet revolution will be, but
I hope it will create new ways of starting conversations.

Aloha!

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