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Inter Net

Updated 27 September 2008

The Inter Net is quite possibly the most Paradigms-shaking phenomenon seen in a very long time.  As an alternative to the establishment, allegedly mainstream Media , it is a godsend -- a wondrous sign in the heavens that the media monopoly has finally been broken!   

But the Inter Net is potentially far more.  On the one hand, "The Internet is swiftly becoming the primary repository of the bulk of human informaton." [1] The Internet may in fact be a Global Mind in the process of evolving, in effect, the first evidence for the Emergence of a Species Mind.  

There is little credible evidence available in the mainstream to suggest that the Inter Net and its evolution was anything but a wildly unexpected and unanticipated luck of the draw.  An occasional politician might claim credit for “inventing the Inter Net” [Duh!], but more than most any other form of life on the planet, the Inter Net is seemingly out of control -- and thus highly unlikely to have been anyone’s brainchild.  

Please note that “out of control” can either mean chaotic and thus threatening (which was not the intent of the previous statement), or out of the bounds of external control by those who are really into control!  (Which was precisely the intent!)  This is not to say that the Inter Net does not have constant challenges to its integrity.  One might ask, for example, why the FBI involves itself in a major and expensive full frontal assault on Inter Net alleged pedophiles, when there’s a Catholic Church just down the street.  (Sorry.  Couldn’t resist that one.)

Of potentially even greater concern is the continual chipping away of Inter Net freedoms by organizations and groups intent upon limiting the impact of the Inter Net on the ability of any and all users to easy access to real and unlimited information from diverse sources. One unfortunate example is the recent innovation of Aol.com to simply block many emails from non Aol.com subscribers; allowing Aol.com to act as a first filter on what it allows its subscribers to see, read, and possibly understand.

Aol.com has in fact become such a thorn in the side of the Freedom of Speech that numerous websites, such as anti-Aol have evolved with the mandate to challenge Aol.com and it's deplorable practices. These groups have even included helpful techniques to get rid of Aol. This website, The Library of Halexandria, has in fact recently been forced to acknowledge the advent of the Aol.com censorship and book-burning fanatics. Ironically, this may possibly be an example of history repeating itself --from the times of the burning (three times) of the ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt to the less dramatic electronic form of just writing the applicable software and thus eliminating access to alternative and innovative ideas.

Typical of such fanatics and their continual dissemination of misinformation, Aol.com has special programs to allow non-profits and other organizations access to Aol's subscribers. These include a so-called "Whitelist" for non-profits, while for-profit websites must first pay Aol for the privilege of sending material to their subscribers. Note that this is NOT a matter of preventing Spam by Aol, but instead a means for Aol to garner more money while simultaneously exposing their subscribers to the various forms of Spam... with the only limitation being that it is Spam that has paid the required entrance fee to Aol.

Clearly such unwarranted censorship by such organizations as Aol.com is a first step in the control... read severe limiting... of information and ideas --such limiting being an essential step in the imposition of totalitarianism. While it might be argued that Aol.com is merely attempting to increase its bottom line in some sort of Capitalistic form of monopoly of the interests of its subscribers, the fact remains that such business practices dovetail very nicely with the absolute essential control of communications required by any and all totalitarian states. Somehow, using grossly unethical and immoral business practices as an excuse for adding to totalitarianism can hardly be considered to be a legitimate excuse for Aol.com official policies and practices.

Meanwhile, the Library of Halexandria readers are advised of the following:

SPECIAL NOTICE TO AOL.COM USERS:  Aol.com has apparently determined not to allow quarterly updates and other communications from Halexandria.org.  Attempts to obtain a place of Aol.com's "whitelist" for non-profits have failed, said failure due entirely to Aol.com.  Accordingly, Halexandria.org will be unable to reply to any feedback from an Aol.com subscriber, nor include your Aol.com address on a mailing list for our quarterly updates.  If you would nevertheless like to receive feedback and/or quarterly updates, please provide halexandria.org with a non Aol.com e-mail address.

One can argue, perhaps with a degree of legitimacy, that the Inter Net is sufficiently strong to counter such threats from bottom-line accounting firms interested in only one thing... maximizing profits. Still, the Inter Net is not merely about curious individuals who are interested in learning as much as possible about the world in which they're living. It is also very much about all of the others whose curiosity is being unknowingly thwarted by the merchants of aol-style censorship. Democracy is supposedly the rule of the majority... and alas, if the majority is restricted to such over-riding censorship, then the peril is real indeed.

Curiously, another major challenge to the Inter Net is also its greatest strength -- the idea of being able to say anything, to speculate wildly on any subject, to go beyond the bounds of credibility, and thereafter disseminate the results to that collective of humans with computer access to cyberspace.  For just as the basic rule of computers has been ever since their inception: “Garbage In; Garbage Out”; the same applies to the Inter Net, where the axiom might be: “The Quick and the GIGO.”

A related problem is the sheer quantity of material. This was the same problem faced by Zenodotus of the ancient Library of Alexandria when around 300 B.C.E., he realized he had 500,000 papyrus scrolls and no way to organize them. As Lev Grossman [1] has pointed out, Zenodotus "had stumbled on an important truth: You can have more information at your fingertips than any other human being in history, but it won't do you much good if you can't find the piece you want." His solution of ordering the scrolls alphabetically seem to do the trick, a principle which has survived until today.

However... There has been an increase in the scrollings: Instead of 500 thousand items to organize as in the ancient Alexandria case, current estimates assume an Inter Net encompassing some 500 billion documents. Or roughly a one million fold increase. And that estimate was just six months ago. We are not rapidly approaching having 100 Inter Net documents for every human being on the planet. Have you read your 100 yet?

The modern day Zenodotus technique for finding the right information on the Inter Net is the search engine -- for it is this means which provides the keys to the kingdom of knowledge. In the good old days (a couple of years past), searching was a freebie and essentially a matter of looking for key words. Then along came Sergey Brin and Larry Page with a new kind of search engine -- one which prioritized a web page by the number of other websites linking to it. This technique is equivalent to the value of a journal article being determined by the number of other papers which reference it. I.e., if no one else uses your stuff, then it's probably not terribly relevant. Sorry about that.

Brin and Page's brain child, of course, was Google (I had to mention their name or else they would take me off their search engine!) (Just kidding.) Google was named after the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros -- the latter being clearly a HUGE number! Google's mission was from the outset a free means with which to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. The Brin and Page concept was very altruistic -- as if it "providing the right information for everybody in the world, all the time, would be an important thing to do." [1]

However... With web surfers performing about 550 million searchs every day, the marketeers realized that this audience was worth about $2 billion a year to online advertisements. Google suddenly found itself making a 30% profit on revenue of nearly $1 billion a year. Unsurprisingly, Google became a hot commodity and began the process to sell its stock on the free market. The company is now valued as high at $20 billion, and if the spirit moves you, you can own a piece of Google. But only if the spirit moves you. Otherwise, stick the money back under the mattress.

It's always nice to see altruistic brain children make good. But as Washington, DC as learned to its chagrin, a pot of gold attracts thieves. Enter Bill Gates (commonly referred to as the "third anti-Christ") and his adopted brain child, Microsoft, to buy Google. When this foray failed, Microsoft fell back on Plan B, where Microsoft would build a bigger and better search engine and simply overpower the competition in the traditional manner of Microsoft and standard monopolistic practices. The only good news is that Microsoft's search engine may not be ready for primetime until 2006.

Then there's Amazon.com with its revolutionary search of published books. A whole new realm of information is now available on the web -- the beginnings of an achievement which some have compared to the invention of the encyclopedia. Imagine, if you will, being any where in the world and accessing the Library of Congress!! [1] Is there no end to what can come about as a result of the Inter Net?

[Of course, the exponential growth of computers, the Inter Net and so forth makes one wonder why there have not been similar growth curves in such fields as energy or transportation or other such essential standards. Possibly, potential improvements are somehow being... diverted? One must surmise that the Inter Net on the other hand is not wholly in the hands of non-altruistic beings. And thus the sky is the limit!

The strange part is that we are all becoming very accustomed to massive improvements in communications. When you can receive a telephone call from your friend on her yacht in the North Sea as easily as talking to someone over the back fence, the idea of calling up any information on the Inter Net seems pretty ho hum. It has been said that "if something breaks or crashes, it's technology; if you don't notice it, it's no longer technology." "Microsoft Windows is clearly technology because it crashes all the time." [2] The Inter Net, meanwhile, is rapidly losing the spectre of technology and becoming common place. Accessing and sharing information is surprisingly easy.

An important consideratio, however, is that "the Web is rapidly supplanting other Media [YEA!] as the primary means by which people get information about the world -- not just sports scores but news, car prices, history, famous quotations and potential dates. This is information that matters. Google -- or any search engine -- isn't just another website; it's the lens through which we see that information, and it affects what we see and don't see. At the risk of waxing Orwellian, how we search affects what we find and by extension how we learn and what we know." [1]

"That's a pretty important job. It may be too important to let the market decide who gets it and how they perform it." [1] In that regard, can you imagine giving Bill Gates the job? That's not Orwellian; that's societal suicide!

Accordingly... Long Live Google, Yahoo, Netscape, Safari, and every other search engine on the web! Cast your vote today! In diversity, there is hope. And while you're at it, cancel your Aol.com subscription. <grin>

Meanwhile back at the more mundane, Inter Net ranch, there's another slight problem. This is that the vast majority of Cyberspace users have something in common: everything seemingly needs to move at light speed.  There is no emphasis on reflection, consideration, fine-tuning, or anything else that might contribute to improved thinking or communications.  There is, in fact, precious little Discrimination (of the desirable kind).  Time, being of the essence, is not to be squandered with any delaying thought of what something might ultimately imply, whether it is true or not, or whether, for that matter, it is even kind.  The key is to flip down through it at maximum warp, make an instantaneous decision whether or not to forward the message or report, and thereafter delete anything and everything that might be construed as unjustifiably requiring one’s attention at a later date.  

There are no rules requiring this approach, but the volume of information flowing through cyberspace does suggest that in order to cover the bases, one does not want to spend any significant time on one base or the other.  “So many e-mails, so many websites, so little time”, seems to be the operative phrase.  

However.  Try a brief pause.  Think about the possibilities of a newly encountered idea or thought.  Add a few carefully selected items to the long-term memory, and smile at the ideas destined for the trash.   Even turn off the electronics and write poetry.   

Think about it. Or visit www.sign69.com for a spin about some far out images and sounds (just click on the screen anywhere -- different places for different excursions).

Okay, so you’re on a roll Inter Net wise, and thinking right now in the midst of your scrolling -- or worse yet, writing poetry without a computer-- is not part of your drama-of-the-moment.  Which is why this website was constructed.  For all you junkies with the urge to explore other people’s agendas.  

Okay.  In that case, consider the inherent lack of Privacy in the e-mail kingdom.   

For all extents and purposes, e-mails have acquired a longevity status which may prove to be somewhat less than desirable.  One might, for example, pour their heart in an e-mail to a confidante, hit “send” and then promptly delete all evidence of your momentary weak moment.  Perhaps, even your friend deletes the message, in their quest to protect your privacy.  (But don’t count on it -- you know how they are!  And how Linda Tripp still is.)   Meanwhile, the idea that the message is now inaccessible to nosy busybodies is simply, point blank, wrong.  [Which is a good case -- if it’s not a nice thing -- for not sending it, writing it, or even thinking it -- see Creating Reality and/or Privacy.]  

Prosecutors and other lower forms of life have been delighted to learn that e-mails can live forever.  Even if the e-mail is deleted from the originating and receiving computers, the document can still remain on the main computer, or file server, that relayed the message. “It doesn't really get erased, it just appears to,” said Scott Gaidano, of DriveSavers Data Recovery. “But it’s there and it can be gotten, in most cases relatively easily.”  

As a result, e-mails can be a high-priority item on a prosecutor’s evidence list.  Where else can law enforcement people find some of the warts, disclosures, admissions, and anything that might sink your ship (as in “loose lips sink ships”).  From a prosecutor’s viewpoint, you go for the cybergold as a matter or course.  Forget any hint of privacy rights -- this stuff is effectively being broadcast for the world to see (and sometimes hear).  Even in high visibility cases, there is little or no hesitation to use anything against someone.  

Also numerous programs abound, looking for key words like “bomb” (even if in reference to a football long pass), “Bush” (as in “a Byrd in the hand is worth two in the Bush), or even “Puff, the Magic Dragon” (inasmuch as it is reputed to refer to illegal marijuana smoking).  These programs will pull your message out of Cyberspace, and file them away for later review.  In other words, anything you say on the Inter Net, can and will be used against you in a Court of Law.  Or in a Military Tribunal.  (The latter which is much, much worse.)  The only criteria is when they decide to come after you.  

That might smack of paranoia, but remember that paranoia is the illusion that they’re out to get you.  If they really are out to get you, then it’s not paranoia.  It’s reality!  

Computer experts were asked to provide the “10 commandments” of e-mail. They came up with two:  

            Don’t think your e-mail is private.

            Don’t believe the delete key.

 And while we’re on the subject of privacy (or the lack thereof), keep in mind that there are people out there -- such as Margaret Carlson, writing in Time Magazine’s July 16, 2001 issue (i.e. prior to 9-11-2001) -- who advocate flagrantly abusing constitutional rights by entitling her article: “Someone to Watch Over Me; How to tell the good surveillance from the bad.”  Gag!   

BTW, one point made in Ms. Carlson’s article is that while the home is still a relatively private place free from legal snooping, an automobile is not.  The car on public thoroughfares is fair game.   

So is cyberspace. 

Thus, “the price of freedom is [still] eternal vigilance.”



[1] Lev Grossman, "Search and Destroy", Time Magazine, December 22, 2003.

[2] Eric Roston, "Tangled Wires," Inside Business, Time Magazine, March 2004.


Synthesis         Communications, Education, Health         Media

Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys!

 Or forward to:

 Emergence of a Species Mind         Discrimination         Education


The Milgram Effect

Freedom of Religion        Holy War        The Rules of Holy War

Racism and Culturalism         Multiculturalism         Perils of Immigration

Free Speech         The (9) Supremes         The Halls of SCOTUS

An American Third Party         A Third Party That Knows How to Party



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