We often liken the internet to highways, but likening it to a package delivery system, which it is, is perhaps even better:
This is what once made the web great and still, in some small way, continues to make it the place the first drew me to it in the late eighties and nineties — yup, me and the internet go back a ways now: Bob Bemer’s search to discover if he was the first person to introduce curly braces into the standard set of characters available to programmers and programming languages. [Read it.](http://www.bobbemer.com/BRACES.HTM) Before businesses realized that there was gold to be made by seeming to provide content — Chris Locke’s _Clue Train Manifesto_ set them on this course: I blame him for everything — the web was a lot of individuals, programmers and scientists and the occasional scholar just plain having fun sharing information. Sometimes, okay, often, it was anecdotal and provisional, but that is in fact the nature of knowledge, and those early web pages seemed somehow to make it clear what we were up against in attempting to build a vast storehouse of human knowledge that was always changing, sometimes precisely because it had become aware of all the other knowledge out there.
From a recent pitch made to the telecomms, with my apologies to all my conservative friends who may have been taken in by Rush Limbaugh’s misdirection on this — on this, I think Limbaugh reveals that his pockets are deep and they are lined with other people’s interests.
I have uploaded the complete presentation, which was released over the internet, to my Scribd account, but it may not last long there. If not, search for “final_slide_deck” for “openet” and “allot” — one company’s name is revealing and the other misdirects. (The file appears as “Final Slide Deck” in [my Scribd library](http://scribd.com/johnlaudun/.)
[Wikipedia](http://wikipedia.org/) has a mixed reputation in the academy. Too many professors have had to suffer through submitted essays that amounted to little more than a cut and paste job. This is not Wikipedia’s fault. The same students, or rather their parents, were doing the same thing with encyclopedias long before Wikipedia became the amazing on-line encyclopedia that it is.
We could spend a lot of time on this topic, noting the failure of elementary and secondary education, the failure of higher education, the failure of parents (yes, parents, your job is to parent, which means teaching), and the failure of the students themselves all to understand what it means to create knowledge for yourself and others. And it’s worth talking about more.
In the mean time, Wikipedia does a whole lot of good. I will say it: Wikipedia is often the first source to which I go when I am encountering a new word or idea. If that horrifies you, then you’ll be equally horrified by my use of a Webster’s Unabridged dictionary with yellowing pages and a somewhat failing faux leather cover.
To honor Wikipedia’s contribution to my own learning and development, I made a contribution, and I suggest you do so, too. Any amount will do, but just do it:
For those of you who wondered why I haven’t posted anything lately. Here’s your sign: