What is the Internet? Place 2.0

Somebody posted this video not too long ago on Facebook. Very appropriate location for the Web 2.0 generation to make fun of the Today Show hosts, who, back in 1994, were trying to figure out what the internet was.

My favorite part is hearing one of  the techies or the director actually jumping in off camera to explain the concept to the confused trio.   Back in 1994, the Well and IRC had long been established, and I remember that my dad’s commodore 64 was already stored as a fond memory up in our attic. But aside from the fact that this footage makes the hosts look a little too orange, to me it seems like 1994 was not that long ago,  which makes it hard to believe that journalists at the time would be asking such a thing.

Maybe I’m closer to the Web 2.0 generation than what I originally thought. I guess that’s what happens when you let a 5 year old play the original Prince of Persia on her dad’s computer. But what does this video have to do with Sideworks? As one of the hosts points out, a lot of people in LA during the 1994 earthquake used the internet to give updates on their situation and reassure their loved ones.

Whether this was actually possible or not  is not very relevant here: I don’t know how you would run a 56k modem without a functioning phone line, but hey, I’m no genius.   What I find interesting here is that the first thing that came up in this conversation that attempts to define the internet associates it with morse or telegraphs.  I wonder how people would answer that question now… Seems like a pretty basic question with an obvious answer, but I still think we’d get very interesting outcomes, which would inform us on how this kind of technology shapes our priorities, values or attitudes.

If pathfinding with Google maps, bargain shopping with Deal of the Day, spotting places through Yelp or checking in with Foursquare are shifting our consumer behavior, how is this affecting our use of space?   A couple of weeks ago, in a demonstration on St-Catherine street, one guy had built a giant replica of the Google “A” pin, as if to signify “This is also where it’s happening”.   Can we expect cities and countries to do the same thing, can they find strategies to reverse the mapping phenomenon effectively, thus adapting to this new trend in place-making and place-finding?


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