This thing we call the Internet, the single largest advancement in human communication to date, has in roughly two decades transformed the way we communicate, the way we work, play and think. So many things have changed, yet I can’t help but be certain the Internet we know today is still in it’s infancy and we see only hints of deep cultural transformations on the horizon. It is too easy and only natural for all of us to forget how fantastic this technology really is. After all, it surrounds us and we become numb to it’s novelty but, it really is the stuff of science-fiction becoming a reality. In George Orwell‘s 1984 (written in 1948), a dystopic world is captive to Big Brother, the all seeing, all knowing, ever suspicious government churning out it’s propaganda via omnipresent 2-way TV screens. Orwell envisioned a world made hopeless by a horrific technology, an inescapable Internet. He for saw the the power of such technology and the danger of letting it fall into the hands of the corrupt and powerful.
Fortunately for us and I think Orwell would agree, today we find ourselves in an Anti-Orwellian reality; in which the technology he imagined has come to pass, but it is not the weapon of a singular government. Instead it exists as a tool for the public, and has proved to defy any censor. With a twist of irony the technology that would crush individual freedoms is instead today working to enhance individual freedoms and creativity. Because of the Internet, humans have more access to more information and each other than ever before. This is pure science-fiction and it is just the beginning, for we are still figuring out what to do with this wealth of potential. On this note, I wish Orwell with his vision had been able to conceive of a world more like our future in let’s say, 2084. This would mark almost a century since the accessible Internet began. What will this world be like? – After so many decades of living with the Internet, where individuals willingly broadcast their lives and ideas to the public. What value will we find in it? What will be learned? And how will this continue to change or culture? This can only bring change greater than we today can imagine. Already we see traditional information monopolies crumble at the edges. And our notions of anonymity, privacy and our preoccupations are transforming as we tweet and skype ourselves toward our Anti-Orwellian Future of 2084. What about big Brother? I think there is a little Big Brother in each of us. A thing we collectively are beginning to understand about the internet, Someone is always watching.