Friday, October 24, 2008

The Internet as a troubled teenager

A rather nice description of the Internet's maturity, or, more accurately, its lack of it, from a column in the December 2008 issue of PC Pro Magazine:

"Children can be a crushing disappointment. Back in 1990, when Tim Berners-Lee gave birth to the world wide web, he doubtless hoped his offspring would be highly intelligent, sociable and respectable. Instead, 18 years on, he finds himself with an impressionable teenager who is easily led by any crackpot with a conspiracy theory, and who has the world's biggest porn stash under his bed."

This is in the context of Tim Berners-Lee's recommendation that there must be ways of identifying content on websites to provide some kind of assurance about its veracity. See:

This follows on from the latest conspiracy to do the rounds on the web, that the Large Hadron Collider would suck us all into oblivion through a man-made black hole. Which itself reminded me of (yet) another wonderful Douglas Adams quote:

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

Anyway, the PC Pro column concludes that Tim B-L's proposal is actually a tacit form of censorship. Which is rather stretching the point; I think the real problem with the idea is simply the huge difficulty of keeping track of information published on the web these days!

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