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Net Life

The Internet does change everything. Or does it? Others have said that. Maybe it doesn't change everything, just a whole lot. It's what marketing calls a "disruptive" technology. One that unseats or radically changes things which have come before it, often in surprising ways. "Cyberspace" has existed in one form or another for decades. But mostly used as a tool or enjoyed as recreation by a technically oriented sub-culture. In the hands of everyone now, it does change everything. The media hype that surrounded and to a degree continues to surround the Internet is appropriate, though often very poorly and shallowly presented. That there have been horrible financial calmities from Inernet related business in no way changes the massive shifts in everyting from government to business to personal and social trends which continue to occur with this widely deployed technology.

One of the things that you, a thoughtful, actively intellectual person, needs to guard against, are the mood swings brought on by so-called popular press and even various trade press persons. Early on in the major growth phase of the Internet, all kinds of amazingly intelligent people had plenty of visionary things to say about the future. At the same time, some even more amazingly stupid or simply average minded folks blew a lot of smoke in people's eyes. First, the 'net and anything dot com like was going to be the be all and end all. To hear some people spin their stories, we wouldn't even need food anymore. We could live on information. A really vapid minded super cool type would say something like... "food itself is information, encapsulated in the biomolecular structure of life... blah, blah." This might be true. But it's also just... ah... kind of stupid. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for deep though and philosophical BS on occasion. But a lot of these people talk like this all the time and take themselves seriously. Sadly, they were packing them into the conference rooms for awhile there.

So. Where's the truth? The truth is, "Yes, the existence of the technologies that allow for and provide the Internet do and will continue to change a great many things." But as the ideas and technologies from the Internet disperse into our lives via so many different mechanisms, it's important to consider how and why and what the impact really is for each of the elements and how they relate to the whole. Putting all the family savings into Internet stocks for most people was as foolish as doing so for biotech or what will likely occur again soon for nanotechnology or fuel cell technology. All of these things are or will be potentially radical sea change technologies. And it's appropriate to give them a reasonable amount of consideration. We just have to remember the lesson of the Internet growth period and bubble burst for "the next big thing." The problem(s), where there are problems, is most often not so much new ideas or technologies, but poorly considered responses to them.

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