- Internet & the Web
The Internet Nation
he thing that really annoys me about Star Trek is the complete lack of understanding they have for the teleport system. To them, it is just a convenient way to get from A to B. They do not understand the impact that such a technology would really have on society. The reason I raise this point is because the internet shares many of the features of a teleport system – with all of the society-changing implications that brings.
With the Internet, physical distance no longer matters
To really understand what that means, let us go back to a story about teleportation that did see its power. I believe the book is “The Stars My Destination”. In it, people have learned to teleport. As soon as this happens, national boundaries and barriers disappear. This causes the collapse of policing which brings about the collapse of governments. Society falls apart and there is chaos until people get used to the new reality. All of this is because people suddenly have the ability to move wherever they want. The Internet is having the same effect. It has been impossible to police because the Internet is everywhere. If something is illegal in one part of the world, you set up the website in a part that does not care and then it is beyond your reach. For example, in music copyright violation, the Music Industry was able to close down Napster because it was an American business but they could not stop other websites starting up in other jurisdictions. Now it is impossible to tell where the website is that you are looking at. This has led to action being taken against individuals who use these sites and as far as the Music Industry is concerned, there have been some high profile instances of court cases against teenagers for tens of thousands of dollars for having a small collection of downloaded music files. Other countries like China and Iran are trying to close their borders to a free Internet and are hoping to find ways of limiting and controlling it. They are failing and will continue to fail. The signal is available from satellite so someone can always pick it up. During World War II, people in Jersey were occupied by the Nazis. Listening to BBC broadcasts was forbidden and punishable by death. Yet people risked their lives throughout the duration of the war to listen to the voice of the BBC. Do you really think that people in these countries will not do the very same thing? Yet all of this is just the first tiny rumblings of an earthquake that is going to shatter national organizations completely.
How the Internet will really change the world as a whole and societies in particular is impossible to say with any certainty in these early days. But let us look at a concrete example of the kind of new power for change that it gives anyone who is connected to it. Say you are passionate about getting electricity from wave power but you live in the middle of the Nevada Desert. You get on the Net and meet like minded people. You find someone who lives in a part of the world where tidal flow is huge (like Jersey) and they want to set up a tidal electricity system. You decide to invest in it. Suddenly, you are helping to produce green energy where you were unable to before. As the business succeeds, it makes money and with the money, it grows to make make more money. You are now contributing to world change even though it was not have possible in your physical location.
You can now pool your resources anywhere in the world with like minded people and create change. It is the ultimate democracy. You are no longer limited to a vote once every so many years. You can now choose on a daily (even hourly) basis how you will use your resources to make the changes you want directly regardless of what decisions your own national government makes. You can help friends exert influence in their areas and they will help you in yours and governments will be completely powerless to stop you because they do not even now that it is going on. As people realize this, these Internet Nations are going to be a new way of organizing societies even though their members may be physically far apart.
According to some sources, Facebook has 300 million members. That makes it as big as America. If everyone decided to act as a whole on one thing, do you really think that there is a government that could stand in our way? And if they did, do you think that they could succeed? There is a scene at the end of the X-Files movie that sums up the power of this new Internet Nation. We see them destroying the virus-transmitting bees in America where they have been discovered. In the very next scene, we see that they have transferred them in to the middle of a desert in Iran where no one will discover them. This is how the Internet Nation will work when we finally realize how powerful we are
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