The Internet’s Not Finished, But Flying Cars Are Unlikely

Filed as Features on June 5, 2007 6:00 am

I used to work for a company in Chicago You can find it about a mile and a half west of here. If I drove, I turned right out of my garage to go the stop sign at the corner. Another right turn took me to the next corner. Where, guess what? I went right again. At the corner at the end of that block, my drive would get exciting. Not only did I encounter a T-intersection with a stoplight, but I got to make another right and then a quick left onto a residential street.

The next 12 city blocks or so were directly toward my destination, but I had to come to a full stop for a stop sign every two blocks. At last, I would arrive at the final right turn, go one block and start search for parking place. Rock star parking was available if I got there before 7:30 a.m.

When I visit that company on the Internet, I click a link.

At that company, I worked in educational publishing. Among othr things, we revised a 60-year-old writing program with too many revisions to return it to its original passion and purpose.

Two weeks ago in a D.C. meeting, a friend shared this story with me. On an international journey, my friend found himself next to someone from another educational publishing company. The two talked about the future. The man said his corporation believes that in 7 years they will be done with textbooks. Selling traditional textbooks to US and UK schools will be history.

I’ve had three students email me for permission to quote one of my blogs in a paper school. . . .

The information on my blog wasn’t in their textbooks.

When I first got to the Internet, I unconsciously tried to give everything a place, north, south, east, west. Being visual, I still find myself, thinking about people’s blogs and websites on a map of the world in my head. But that’s only half of the story.

Like any 3-D company — building and people — that I might drive to, the Internet is a place, but it’s also the people that live, work, and play every day here.

However, we have to remember that the two Internets — the place and the people — don’t sit on a world map or follow 3-D rules as the two companies in the physical world we are used to. Doc Searls says it well in his notes on the wrap up summary by Karim Lekhani at the Internet & Society 2007 Conference.

Facts of life in the new networked environment are radically different than those in the physical world. There are new rules around abundance and scarcity, among many other variables. Many methods of control that work in the physical world do not work on the Net, or work in flawed ways — and in fact insult its nature. Yet the two worlds coexist and coincide. It is essential that we understand the networked world on its on terms, and not just on terms borrowed from the physical world. This will take awhile.

It will take awhile and some getting used to. We’re learning. We don’t know.

When I was small, they promised a new world in this 21st century. Some of it happened decades ago. Some of it just happened. Some never will. What I was really looking forward to was the flying cars.

The flying cars are unlikely.

When I drove home from that company in Chicago, I had to take a much more complicated route. It’s much simpler hitting the back button on my browser.

Who needs flying cars when you can meet almost anyone, almost anywhere with a click from a computer?

Will I still be here when the Internet is finally formed?

Liz Strauss, lives inside your computer. A founder of SOBCon, Liz writes about relationships, conversations, and the changing Internet at Successful-Blog. Most folks wouldn’t be surprised to find a flying car parked near there.

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  1. The Internet’s Not Finished, But Flying Cars Are Unlikely | Talk UtopiaJune 5, 2007 at 7:59 am
  2. By Chris Cree posted on June 5, 2007 at 1:11 pm
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    I’ve flown from ships, but not in cars. Yet.

    I’m still waiting for that paperless society they promised us 25 years ago. With this many computers on the planet I would have thought we’d be there by now.

    Reply

  3. By Liz Strauss posted on June 5, 2007 at 2:31 pm
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    Hi Chris,
    I think we humans have a need to something we can touch. I know I like some things to be where I can see them, hold them, and know they’re here when when I turn off my computer. I still like a good ben in my hand. :)

    Reply

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