That's just the first way the Web is different from the real world. Here are some more:

There are limits in the real world to how many next-door neighbors you can have. On the Web, your can have as many "next-door neighbors" as you want: your page could have hundreds of links and no one will complain that the neighborhood is getting too crowded, or that the house in front of them is blocking their view.

Here's another difference. On this planet, there's just so much land. Every time someone builds a new building, she or he has used up some of the land. But when someone builds a new site on the Web, not only doesn't it use up anything, it actually makes the Web bigger: if the Web had 20 billion pages, now it has 20 billion and one pages. There's no limit to how big the Web can get, but there is a limit to how big your town can get.

Another difference is that in the real world, when you move to a new neighborhood, it already has people living there. You have to take the good neighbors with the bad. On the Web, you make your own neighborhood by linking your site to the sites that you like. If there's a site about shells that says that turtles and pasta shells are shellfish, you just won't link to it because you know it's wrong. You get to pick all your own neighbors on the Web.

Links to Explore

The Visible Earth

Satellite photos of "urban sprawl"


Types of pasta

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This is a children's version of David Weinberger's book
Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web.
copyright © 2002 David Weinberger