Chapter 1: A New World

Small Pieces: Discuss Small Pieces Chapters: Chapter 1: A New World

By Tim Walker on Thursday, June 13, 2002 - 11:47 pm:

The Web is a new medium quite unlike any other. It is "many to many." It is a grass-roots, bottom up, do-it-yourself collage. And there is a saying-the street finds its own uses for something. The most important manifestations of the web will probably not be anticipated. Expect the unexpected.

By Tim Walker on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 09:33 am:

Use of the Web by Non-government Organizations (NGOs) was described in an article in the Dec. 11th '99 issue of the Economist, "The non-governmental order." It described how coalitions can be built on-line. The coalition that protested the World Trade Organization here in Seattle-which included such unlikely allies as environmentalists and labor unions-was built using e-mail. This coalition "swarmed" their target. Such groups are difficult for governments to deal with. An NGO swarm has "no central leadership or command structure; it is mult-headed, impossible to decaptiate. And it can sting a victim to death." Yet the article went on to say that there were attempts to co-opt such groups. The World Bank, for example, has asked NGOs to help set policy and has distributed money to them for projects.

By Tim Walker on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 05:09 pm:

I'm quoting from photocopied pages out of some book, but I neglected to include the title and author. Anyway, comparing the older mass media, with their one-to-many model: ..."Computer forums, in contrast, can function as many-to-many systems-in general they rely on little or no hierarchical editing. Instead these networks are a colloquy of different voices with different styles, with information flowing in multiple directions at once. The 'filtering' function performed by newspaper editors is left to the readers, who are also computer forums to the World Wide Web, which is arguably an adaptation of the one-to-many model-information on a Web page is disseminated outward from a single source. The Web is democratic too, but its democractic impact derives less from the interplay of voices and opinions within a page than from the low economic barriers to entry for Web publishers, which result in lots of Web pages overall." Lately the distinction is blurring. Home pages are now including "Guest Books" in which people are invited to post; hopefully the result may be the best of both worlds.

By Rob Wall on Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - 01:05 pm:

I disagree with your interpretation of .Zannah's nom de web. You suggest that the leading dot is the online equivalent of a pierced tongue, but you also refer to her having a section on her blog called "/usr/bin/girl" suggesting she has some familiarity with unix systems. In a unix file system, a leading dot at the beginning of a file or directory makes it a hidden file. I think that the leading dot is her little joke - a sly wink to let us know that what we are seeing is the hidden part of her personality, the part that none of her friends in the physical world get to know to much about. There is a certain symmetry - she has her realworld personality, and perhaps only close friends get small clues and glimpses of this other part of her, while in netspace we see this other self with small glimpses of her realworld self.

By dweinberger on Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - 01:49 pm:

Rob, good point, well argued. Thanks.

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