Physically, the Internet is a network of networks, a network of physical connections with computers as the nodes. In a logical sense, at a higher level of conceptualization, it is a network of relationships that is established through conversations between humans. The Internet is new but it is merely a modern technological manifestation which addresses the much older higher-level need for humans to connect. We connect in our daily lives through conversations with people in our neighborhood. The Internet expands the concept of the neighborhood to global proportions through the World Wide Web.
Conversations on the Internet are not a new phenomenon. Before the World Wide Web, the Internet was home to Usenet, a very diverse set of virtual communities (called news groups) with interests that ranged from metaphysics to culture to science and everything in between. In the mid-80s and 90s, I conversed furiously on the various Usenet groups (such as soc.culture.Indian) writing thousands of posts on matters that mattered to me as an Indian living in the US, and connecting with others with similar interests—India, economic development, Buddhism, etc. That habit of conversing with others quite easily transferred to writing a blog centered on my obsession with India’s economic growth and development.
Einstein had noted that humans, limited by time and space, suffer from what he called an “optical delusion of consciousness” which makes one experience oneself as something separate from others. The goal then, he said, was to “free ourselves by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
At its best, blogs enable that widening of compassion by connecting with others in conversations that continue to draw people with differing points of view. My blog helps me connect and learn from those who converse with me on my blog. By writing I often reveal to myself what I know implicitly but don’t know explicitly. It is process of discovery. Then there is the wider learning that comes from visiting other blogs and overhearing the conversations going on there.
Of course, one may not find all conversations interesting or meaningful. Coming across tales told by idiots full of sound and fury signifying nothing, one just moves on. There are many tellers of tales and many stories being told that deserve to be heard. Our neighborhood now has a virtually (sic) unlimited number of interesting people for us to hear stories from.
Let the blogs roll on.