Tim Berners-Lee, as quoted by Jon Udell in a piece that greatly influenced me back in the day, called the web “a shared information space through which people and machines could communicate.” . The original piece in which Tim Berners-Lee said that is still up for all to read, titled “The World Wide Web: Past, Present and Future”. I found the piece by typing the quote in Google. Give it a try.
As we share our knowledge, collectively with one another, across blogs, message forums, email lists, and any other services that permit indexing, and reinforce that knowledge via hyperlinking, we are, collectively, building a space that benefits humanity.
It is this collective space that helped me learn what I needed to learn to build a career.
And all this happens, not because of altruistic reasons, but because the architecture of the Web empowers, via the hyperlink, a certain form of communication and collaboration.
The conversations that occur on Facebook, and on most social networking services, happen in the public-private.
In places not indexed by Google, not indexed by Yahoo!, yet are public to selected communities that have access and privilege to them. Gated communities. Islands.
Certainly, there has always been places out of reach of search engines (and there will always be a need for some), but until the last few years, the call from the digerati was to surface these databases of knowledge to the public, behind whatever proprietary walls that may have kept them out of reach. Whether they be newspaper archives, or email lists.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot celebrate when it comes to social networking services. I’m a participant in more than a few, to be sure.
But if they come to define the Web, as they are to some in the media, then I fear we are taking a great step backward.