Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Power/Magic/Curse of the Internet

A Brief History of the Internet:

A genius programmer burned out his favourite porno tape and thought:

There has to be a better way!

A More Extensive Brief History of the Internet:

It's a pretty wild notion that in order to learn about the internet, I need to use the internet. Do they even print encyclopedias anymore? That's a question for Google right there. While the search 'History of the Internet' didn't make my computer explode like I had expected, it did provide some useful information about how the all powerful internet came to be.

What do you use the internet for? 10 years ago, the answer would be entirely different than it is now. And in 10 years from now, I think we'll all just be the internet. Think about that for a second.

So what is this magical entity that lights up our computer screens across the world? Is it just a glorified porno tape? Is it an outstanding achievement in human creativity? Is it the most useful form of communication we as a society have ever had? Is it boredom's best friend? Is it an enlighting informational tool? Is it a confusing and scary place for my Mother to roam? Yes, to all of that. And while each generation gets better at defining the internet, it's evolving faster than we can handle. But it's also bringing us closer than we as a species were ever meant to be.

My family had the internet enter our home when I was 13, a couple years after it had started to gain household popularity, back when there was only dial-up and a phone was still used just to make phone calls. Back then, there wasn't a Facebook, just chat rooms, crappy fan sites, and porn. And boy, did I learn a major lesson about clearing the Internet History, and was that ever an awkward conversation with my dad. Cut to now, where the internet is Facebook, crappy fan sites, and porn. And, of course, much much more than we ever wanted to know about eachother.

Think way back, to before you were born. If you had a favourite celebrity and wanted to know what they were thinking, you'd have to catch them on a late-night talk show, or wait for monthly magazine to come out with an interview, or wait for them (harsh truth: it was never really them) to reply to your fan mail. Now, with Facebook, Twitter, and other sites that I'm not cool enough to even know about, it's almost too easy to get into the mind of a celebrity. And with YouTube, you don't even have to be a celebrity to be a celebrity anymore, you just have to be half talented with a video camera.

Sometimes, it's better not to know. Sometimes, a thought just doesn't fit into 140 characters. Sometimes, a thought is better left as a thought. Because of this accessibility, will we see the idea of Celebrity die within our lifetime, when we realize we're all just fancy apes, thinking the same dumb things?

Cue old man voice: Back in my day, if we had a dispute at the drinking hole about what year a movie came out, we just punched eachother. The last man standing was the one who's right.

Now, we all run to Wikipedia, to Google, to IMDB, the second there's a disagreement about a song lyric or an actor's age. Sure, it's a helpful way to solve a problem, but I'd argue that it's allowing us to talk more and more about shit that doesn't really matter. If we all had our iPhones and laptops taken away, how would we solve anything? Maybe we'd just start talking about things that don't have a right or wrong answer, like how we feel.

The inspiration for this post was a discovery I made yesterday. For those familiar with the wacky television show Community, you might know that they had an episode late last season where the characters were transformed into an 8-bit video game (Episode titled 'Digital Estate Planning'). For those not familiar with Community, or not as in love with it as I am, this may just seem weird. But it was a nice treat for those who grew up mashing buttons on Super Nintendo.

Well, yesterday, it came to my attention that some internet wizard, on Reddit, is developing this into an actual video game that you can download and play on your computer. Right now, it's in the very early stages, but I imagine that eventually it'll be entirely faithful to the gameplay featured in the episode.

This raises the question, how far can we really go? I fully respect the developer of Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne, and as a fan it's amazing to see a concept in an episode come to life, but where do we draw the line on what's really necessary and what's a waste of time? As the internet keeps developing, will we grow with it, or will we just all eventually look like this:

At the end of the day, I'm still going to love the internet like a brother. It listens to me, it answers my questions, it allows me to get my words out, it plays with me, it entertains me, it helps me discover, it educates me, it shows me how to connect, and most importantly, it allows me to see naked people that I'd never get to see in real life. Thank you, Internet!

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