Internet: A Medium or a Message? The State of the Net: An Interim Report about the Future of the Internet

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Internet: A Medium or a Message?

The State of the Net: An Interim Report about the Future of the Internet

Who are the participants who constitute the Internet?

Users - connected to the net and interacting with it

The communications lines and the communications equipment

The intermediaries (e.g. the suppliers of on-line information or access providers).

Hardware manufacturers

Software authors and manufacturers (browsers, site development tools, specific applications, smart agents, search engines and others).

The "Hitchhikers" (search engines, smart agents, Artificial Intelligence - AI - tools and more)

Content producers and providers

Suppliers of financial wherewithal (currently - corporate and institutional cash to be replaced, in the future, by advertising money)

The fate of each of these components - separately and in solidarity - will determine the fate of the Internet.

The Internet has hitherto been considered the territory of computer wizards. Thus, any attempt at predicting its future applied the Olympic formula : "Faster, Higher, Stronger" to its hardware and software determinants.

Media experts, sociologists, psychologists, advertising and marketing executives were left out of the collective effort to determine the future face of the Internet.

The Internet cannot be currently defined as a medium. It does not function as one - rather it is a very disordered library, mostly incorporating the writings of non-distinguished megalomaniacs. It is the ultimate Narcissistic experience.

Yet, ever since the invention of television there hasn't been anything as begging to become a medium as the Internet is.

Three analogies spring to mind when contemplating the Internet in its current state:

A chaotic library

A neural network or the equivalent of a telephony network in the making

A new continent

These metaphors prove to be very useful (even business-wise). They permit us to define the commercial opportunities embedded in the Internet.

Yet, they fail to...