The Dysfunctional Nature of the Internet

The internet is an outdated medium, but still the most modern one we’ve got. It’s a medium supporting the big ones, the ones with money, and preventing the new and little ones from reaching the top. Popularity is valued over relevancy. Fame over creativity. On Google, 58.4% of all the clicks from users go the first three links, the links considered most appropriate by Google. This percentage decreases dramatically when you leave the top three. Number 11 – that is, the site on the top of the second page – receives merely 2.6% of the clicks. Also, links are still the number one factor in the rankings of search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo!. And an important factor in the valuation of these links is their trustworthiness, with trustworthiness being a notion that is vague, utterly subjective and based on criteria not necessarily enhancing the quality of the information provided.

Each of these factors hinder new, creative and recalcitrant bloggers from receiving the popularity that they – based on the quality of their content – might deserve. The internet, which in fact is Google and some other search engines, is Marxian in a dysfunctional manner. Power structures determine what information does and what information doesn’t reach the “consumer”, the client sitting behind his computer. It’s only when you’re in the bourgeoisie, when you belong the “big guys”, that you will get noticed. If you’re nothing more than a member of the proletariat, you can yell all you want but the power structures will push you down.

But why would this be a problem? And would it even be a problem? Well, it not has to be. It merely indicates that the internet is dominated by a few big corporations and that you, as a blogger, are painfully dependent upon the support of these few big guys. And even this wouldn’t necessarily have to be a problem. Not if these big guys would base their rankings on factors that we – “the consumers” – find most important. We just want to read the information that bests suit our “information needs”. We don’t care whether this information is written by a fat guy or a big shot working at an esteemed newspaper. We just want our wishes to be fulfilled as accurately as possible.

But the truth of the matter is that the internet, as it exists in this 21st century of ours, can’t live up to these requirements. And the reason for this is pretty simple: the internet can’t read our minds. The internet doesn’t know what we are looking for when we type in, “Gay marriage from a Hobbesian perspective”, in Google. The internet merely recognizes the words “Gay marriage” and “Hobbes”. An although Google might come up with articles talking about gay marriage and about Hobbes, it forgets one big thing: the sentiment I’m looking for. I want the internet to provide me with information that suits my feelings, that absolutely fits my deepest – and sometimes even inexpressible – desires. It is merely cold words that the internet is founded upon. Cold words stringed together by links. We cannot blame Google or any other search engine for this. It’s just the way our 21st century technology works. This is the closest we can currently get in satisfying our needs.

I want to pick your brain for a second, and travel with you to the year 2060. In 2060 the internet will be different. It will not be based on written words anymore. It will not depend on how these words match Google’s database anymore. No, in 2060 we can by merely thinking and feeling about what we’re looking for urge Google to find the information that exactly matches our sentiment. Our brain waves will be matched to the “brain wave DNA” of the information that can be found on the internet. No need for links anymore. No domination of the “big few” anymore. Only the pure relevance of information will be judged. This will be an environment for beginning bloggers to thrive in. Released from the “status disadvantage” they currently have. Only the value of one’s content can and will be judged.

But what do you think?

Written by Rob Graumans

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