The World's Favourite Literary Website
The Internet Is History
Note: This essay was written in response to the
metaphor, "cyberspace as
place." This phrase has caused a great deal of controversy over such issues
as prosecuting criminals of the internet. I was asked to come up with
another metaphor for cyberspace.
While history is simply the recording of past events from which an
individual can learn, it can also go deeper than what is perceived at first
glance. Throughout history, people have created, thought, developed and
manipulated ideas, inventions and theories. In the process, many products have come into existence
and from those products even more ideas, inventions and theories have been formed.
A great example of this is a connection made by James Burke about the
development of the United States Constitution. One of the reasons the constitution could be created is because of maps. Due to technological
advances, back in the day, new information was being gathered all the time
about navigation and such. People "like to organize things. Maps made it easier for Europeans to go out and look for cargo. These trips could bring back 600% profits, but required
investments. So, a land register was developed to give property a value. This
brought about the mortgage company, which brought about the insurance industry to protect the investments. A limited joint stock company allowed people to invest in these new
businesses, a national bank had to be invented, which brought about the credit agency, then the invention of the business contract and finally, the Constitution of the United States."
Today, with technology developing at a rate so fast that once you figure out
how to use the mechanism it is already outdated, a new way of thinking and learning is needed in order to promote "knowledge." The Internet helps with
this, but can also be a burden.
Problems in the modern world are being solved in a virtual environment that
is free of space and time (in some aspects). Yet, so is history. Everything
that happened up until this very moment is no longer in existence. It has become a memory; the same thing used by computers. Burke suggests that, "we need to start the process of teaching web learning, where problems are worked through by using
imagination rather than memory. The new skills will be following pathways of information, accessing and retrieving data and weaving through problems."
Internet is History because it takes past events and presents them to the mass public around the world as a link to a memory from someone's imagination once upon a time. These "memories" or facts or dates or general information
is not in existence on the web. Technically, they do not even exist in someone's home until they print them off the computer and then there is still debate over whether or not the situation really happened. How do you know the Boston Tea Party really happened? It was documented, but it could have also been mass hallucination, although this theory is not likely. An individual in today's society can sue history. They can receive benefits from an event that took place when they were four years old. In the Internet, if the crime is committed you have the same problems. Which laws should you abide by? In the case of suing your childhood trauma, the laws could have changed. What is illegal now may not have been twenty years ago. In regards to the Internet, does the location of the victim or the criminal hold which laws are to be used?
Since the Internet is merely a bunch of connections made by people and so is
history, it is up to the people to decide where one can prosecute a thing that only theoretically exists. Where we go from here is up to, well, history.
Works used: all quotes taken from speech given by James Burke at
Univercity, Muncie In. 9/16/00
Critique this work
Click on the book to leave a comment about this work