“The foundational commitment in both the Internet and the World Wide Web is the same: both are built as “open, permissive” structures (to use Naughton’s words). These structures are not unlike the distributed (neuroplastic) design of the brain itself, one that, as it happens, permits all the higher orders of cognition to emerge, higher orders built of “adjacent possibles” and “liquid networks” that in turn enable even higher orders of cognition to emerge. From this open, permissive, distributed structure emerges our distinctiveness as a species. And our links within the World Wide Web enact this emergence, represent this emergence, and thus stimulate further emergent phenomena as we create and share even more powerfully demonstrated ideas about shared cognition.”
– Gardner Campbell
Over the past few days, I read a number of various articles detailing what the worldwide web means to open communication and where it is expected to go within the future. In reading an article by Gardner Campbell, I was able to find a paragraph that really stuck with me about the power of both the Internet and the World Wide Web. The Web itself could be thought of as a collection of links interconnecting many similar ideas, posts, and themes together to create a cohesive digital environment. The article highlights the benefits of open network sharing and relates it to the analogy on the brain’s neural network. What stood out to me so much about the passage, however,was the the mention of how both the Internet and the Web both have a “neuroplastic” design. A brain’s neuroplasticity is defined as the ability for the brain to adapt and add new neural linked pathways and essentially reorganize and adapt itself to better fit the needs of an organism (something I learned in a Neuroscience class I took). By this definition, the brain is constantly being fed new information, and alters itself to process and respond to change, much similar to how the internet itself processes and expands as new web content is created.
What is so great about both the Internet and the World Wide Web is the fact that they continue to build and evolve. Campbell uses writings from author John Naughton to support his stance on how an “open, permissive” structure can promote a higher understanding and experience of the information distributed between sources. Campbell emphasizes “cognition” to refer to the advancement of an information being more than just what one can “perceive”. He does this by first clearly defining the differences between the Internet and the Web. He explains that the internet is a means of transmitting information from one area to another across the digital world, and the web to be a set of interconnected “links upon links” woven together over particular subjects and ideas. These “links upon links” is something that I feel accurately relates to the discussion on how information can resonate and allow users to experience new knowledge more so than ever before. With increasing technology, the emergent phenomena that Gardner explains in his writing is something I find very promising and exciting for the potential of where the web itself could take us.
In the end, however, that depends on where the movement of the digital
sharing goes. Some may argue, as stated in the article, that certain applications from sites like Facebook and Twitter might lead to a movement where closed, more “walled” digital environments with limited information and data sharing will prevail over the more open approach from the web. This, however, is something that I would argue with. Although there could be a concern of limited control of personal information and data posted on such sites, applications and programs like these have been known to promote sharing and make connections with others all across the world as well, similar to that of the web. In addition, accessibility worldwide with such programs has also allowed for many users, who may not have been as familiar with the power of interconnected web use to find an interest in such in the modern digital world. Regardless of whatever stance you may be on such a subject, there’s no denying the potential and vast opportunities that an open sharing system could bring to a digital experience in the future!