Wednesday March 4, 2009 4 comments
The new Renaissance is upon us--only this time around, it's called "Web 2.0" or "Social Networking." Just like the 14th-17th century Renaissance, in which that era's artists, scientists, writers, thinkers and inventors exploded with revolutionary art, science, words, thought, and inventions, so it is today, in the 21st century, that the Web is exploding with the spirit of communication, creation and collaboration.
Wikipedia describes the Renaissance as "... a cultural movement, it encompassed a revival of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation has resulted in the Renaissance being viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era."
Leonardo Di Vinci was the quintessential Renaissance man who did everything: a "jack of all trades" but a master of all, as well. What if Di Vinci and all those other creative people had had the means to communicate their thoughts, ideas, words, and pictures, the way we can today through the technology we literally have at our fingertips? What do you get when you combine so much connectivity with so much thought? An evolution! THAT'S what you get and that's what we're undergoing, not only on the Web but in our world. (Just read the news online, like most of us do: politically, financially, and culturally, we are evolving as a human race.)
What led up to the Renaissance ocurring? There was such a jump in such a relatively short amount of time from "survival of the fittest" living, what with the plague, et all, to a thriving of the intellect and information exploding all over Europe. What caused this jumpstart or evolution? There would have to have been some new way of dissemnating information in order for those Renaissance people to become the Creatives of their time. Yes, there was a new way: the Gutenberg press, invented in 1450, by Johannes Gutenberg.
For years, I've been comparing the Web as the same type of invention, with similar ramifications, as the 14th century Gutenberg press.
Before the Gutenberg press was invented, monks had to handwrite books, one at a time, dipping their feathered pens into the inkwells that gave way to words on the paper, power to the mind. There was no need for most people to have the ability to read, other than the priveledge few born into wealthy families and the religious leaders of that era. The peasants were too busy slaving away on the lands of the feudal lords, just trying to survive another plague-ridden day. How could one even think a creative thought when you were too busy digging another potato out of the ground to feed yourself and your family?
After this information evolution started happening, knowledge was more easily attainable and exchanged. Known as "movable type pagesetting," more Gutenberg presses were built all over Europe and books were suddenly printed in mass quantities. Information was disseminated at an explosive rate, compared to any other time in the history of humankind. This invention was chosen by Time Life magazine as the most important of the second millinieum, according to Wikipedia's annotation.
I think the Web is the equivalent of the Gutenberg press, in the sense that "the masses" are privy to information. But this time, in our technologically infused world, information is literally at our fingertips, literally just a thought (or "tweet") away but more importantly: what's happening lately is that information is being exchanged, shared, and given away by so many of us at such a rate of speed that you could describe the process as mind boggling. Or you could describe it as "Web 2.0," with Social Networking being its driving force and twitter (and all its people) being its nucleus energy, pulsating with creation and collaboration. Many of us are re-making our brands, re-designing our web sites and implementing new technologies to communicate with. I see many people in the twitter world, myself included, are going through a Renaissance of their own.
Sir Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web consortium, has maintained that the "Web is not about technology. It's about communication." In fact, for the past few years, Lee, the visionary man that he is, has been working on the Semantic web as "an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which the semantics of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange..." according to Wikipedia.
I've been on a path with the Internet since 1997, when I bought my first computer, coded my first Web site, communicated my thoughts into cyberspace for the first time. Back then, I didn't know if anyone was listening because there were so few of us compared to the number of people online today. You would post your latest writing sort of like "Kilroy was here" . Never knowing if anyone read it.
Now, I live in a world in which I can micro blog in twitter, and communicate with great minds, celebrities, politicians and great leaders, some of whom I do know are listening. Not only are they listening but they're appreciating my thoughts and re-tweeting them to their followers. I know this because of technology--so many applications that give me data and because I do a good amount of Re-tweeting, too. I pass on the information. And I share my own knowledge freely, just like millions of others. This can only lead to good things... Speaking of good things...
This is why World Peace and the eradication of diseases will happen at an accelerated rate, much more accelerated than we ever thought of before. The Web is the bridge from the Modern Era to the Communication Era, in which thoughts start out as tweets and become inventions that improve our world in a dramatically fast way.
Yes, I'm passionate about the Web. I'm excited about twitter and the rate we are all exchanging information and collaborating and communicating ideas. Please join the conversation, if you're not already involved with Social Networking through twitter, Facebook or the many other Social Networking tools on the Web. Once you join the conversation, remember to listen and think, too. That's when the magic really starts to happen.