BLOGS AND THE INTERNET


Since ancient times people have shared personal experiences with family and friends. Some have also been keeping notes on them as journals. Yet others went a step farther: they recorded their thoughts on particular issues and shared these with friends and others. Such records are called  logs: somewhat like the book in which scientists keep details of their experiments and data.

With the advent of printing it became possible to publish personal reflections and essays in the form of books. Thus, we have a whole body of literature which informs us of the personal thoughts and actions of many. But most of these are by well-established writers and well-known celebrities.

In the last decade of the twentieth century there was a revolution in knowledge-dissemination. It all started with the rapid development of computer science. A major advance in computer technology was the linking of different computers to form a network. The interlinking of the computers into a vast global network came to be called the Internet.  A vast amount of information (human knowledge) found its way into the Internet. Mounds of  information are now on computer networks. In technical jargon this is made possible by using a set of protocols: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP). Never before in all of human history had hundreds of millions of people been informationally connected in this way.  Associated with and/or springing from the Internet are such modern communication systems as Skype, instant messaging, and social media.

Along with the Internet has come another important dimension of twenty-first century life: The World Wide Web. Known to everyone who has a computer as a source of information on any topic, the WWW is as close to omniscience as one can get: the near-equivalent of the contents of all the books in a major national library, readily available to anyone who can access a Web browser. Suppose a person wishes to taste any food of any country and that food is made instantly available to the person on the dinner table. Wouldn’t that be marvelous? Well, the WWW does exactly that, not in the context of food, but of knowledge and information.

Moreover, individuals can collect information of interest to and about them, including some favorite pictures and post them for all to see: This would be the person’s website. The following is an example:  https://people.rit.edu/vvrsps/

Website is a static storehouse which can be accessed by anyone at any time. But one can also periodically change the contents of one’s website, posting one’s thoughts, pictures, reflections, etc. In other words, one can transform one’s personal log into a changing website. This was first called a web-log which became we-blog, and then simply blog: a key new entry in the twenty-first century.

A blog is thus an open journal with personal thoughts, reflections, and reports that one shares with the rest of the world. It is flung into the ocean of cyberspace from where anybody can net it into one’s computer and read. Through this internet move, the arena of publishing has been opened to anybody and everybody.

Blogs have had two effects: one positive and one negative. The positive is that there is now unlimited opportunity to spread knowledge, science, and enlightened values. But blogs have also opened up the possibility for the easy spreading of rumors, misinformation, pseudoscience, hate-literature, and a good deal of sheer nonsense which may impress and influence uncritical minds.

Ultimately, it is not just the political and military leaders who shape history. Often it is their thousands of zealous followers who respond to their calls. The minds of these millions are now molded, not so much by traditional scriptures and books by thoughtful authors, but by bloggers of all shades: from the very dumb to the brilliant, from hate-mongers to those who call for tolerance and enlightenment.

In the course of this century the WWW will be cluttered with countless blogs, perhaps someday with more writers than readers. Submerged in a plethora of blogs, we may become utterly confused by the torrent of thoughts and information  regularly thrown at us, while we ourselves contribute to the heap.

Once again, the Eudys principle is kicking in:  the principle which states that everything good introduced into human societies will have unforeseen significant  ill-effects sooner or later. 

Published by:

Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.

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