We are the web

by Russ Roberts on November 25, 2008

in Web/Tech

We are the web. Sort of. We don’t really have the language to describe it but the web is helping people understand what emergent order is about. Cool video. HT: Pietro Poggi-Corradini. 

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{ 9 comments }

vidyohs November 25, 2008 at 9:22 am

And it is amazing how ubiquitous our connections are.

Was in a local medical office building two weeks ago to do a doctor's deposition and after setting up went to the litter box before we went on record.

In the hallway I was presented with the sight of a little, wizened, and feeble old lady, 90 if she was a day, inching her way along using a walker. In the cloth pocket of her walker was her laptop.

Anonymous November 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

No. No we most certainly are not.

The new coalescent media that are being developed to take advantage of globally interconnected, dynamically updated, massive databases of data allow us to access and process information in new ways. As much as I like this video for its style it does not really illustrate the interactiveness of people using these new media. Vidyohs, our connections are not as ubiquitous as they seem (although I understand your point). Our connections to information is becoming ubiquitous. This is very important, and very different from any other age in history.

We, the person sitting in the chair reading this, used to be sources of information that were required for interaction, trade, communication, and commerce of all types. Our physical presence, mostly in synchronous forms, was necessary for interaction. From 1450 to 1950 this requirement was lessened by mass production technologies supporting first text, then image, then multimedia transmission. The webvideo does a good job of illustrating these changes.

What most people, including economists, are not wrestling with is the nature of the new coalescent media that supports information access between us without requiring our presence or attention. It provides information to us, to our supporting devices and technologies, and to other information systems in ways that go right past communication, sociological, and microeconomic models.

Emergence could arise in phenomena supported by old media architecture. Social movements, panics, bubbles, and the like could happen with steam-driven presses and radio shows. Coalescent media are themselves based on emergence– providing information to us through interactions between us and our systems that change how we use the terms 'need,' 'demand,' and 'provision.'

The Other Eric November 25, 2008 at 10:16 am

The above comment is an massively abbreviated research summary. That one line should be "We, me and the person sitting in the chair reading this…"

– Eric

vidyohs November 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

No name,

Careless useage of ubiquitous.

I did not mean that I claim that each person in the USA has a personal connection to the internet. I was thinking more of the different levels or strata of society that participate, old, young, rich, poor, dull, bright, it doesn't matter. If one wants to be connected it can be done as simple and easily as through cell phones.

Anonymous November 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm

The blog functioning has altered.
If you click Post without entering your info, your comment will post without a name display.

It used to take you to the preview screen and tell you your personal info was required, AND if you had previously done so, it would enter you info so you could post.

No more, so be careful. Enter your info, or click 'preview'.

Sam Grove November 25, 2008 at 12:18 pm

The blog functioning has altered.
If you click Post without entering your info, your comment will post without a name display.

It used to take you to the preview screen and tell you your personal info was required, AND if you had previously done so, it would enter you info so you could post.

No more, so be careful. Enter your info, or click 'preview'.

That was a demonstration of what happens if you click post without preview or without entering your info.

The Other Eric November 25, 2008 at 12:31 pm

I AM suggesting just that. An example: Your cell phone, particularly a 3rd or 4th generation version, is connected to networked systems, without you actually opening and using it, that shares locational, user selection, address, and other information right now. In the near future the majority will offer credit and other information to devices. The Internet is an infrastructure that has spawned new media that are coalescent in nature. Information comes to you based on your location, the history of your choices, your self-selected preferences, your activity-defined preferences, and many more identifiers and characteristics.

My disagreement was with the title of the post, not your observation. It may seem like I'm picking nits, but even in a narrow field of vision- economics- it's really important to start talking about this media with more precision. (I want everyone reading this to throw a brick at the next meeting where you hear the term 'Web Two-point-Ohh.')

T L Holaday November 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Posts about thieves and socialists and enemies are part of the process through which order has emerged, and I suspect they are an inevitable part of the process, but I don't believe they are a necessary part of the process. President-Elect Obama's open government initiative offers the chance to crowdsource spending oversight.

BoscoH November 26, 2008 at 1:11 am

I'm with TOE. Hearing people call this and that "Web Two point Oh" when they really have no idea what's going on behind the scenes is starting to sound to me like fourth graders talking about sex. One thing that totally astonishes me is how little RSS click through activity a collection of sites I manage gets. RSS is built into the major browsers now, and it's a small niche of users that even know about it. The future of news aggregation is not RSS, but sites like Alltop.com where human experts work to put collections together for mass consumption. How funny is that?

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