Our network life: an infinite reflection

Try this: go to Google and search any three words that pop into your head, and see what comes up.

No matter how clever, pithy, or stupid your word combination, your search is likely to yield a dot-com, a blog, or an article on your “subject.”

I love this form of “research.” It’s superficial and amusing. And careful, it can be addictive. The Internet is a medium of powerful influence. Could it be dictating a new reality? Rewiring the way we think, see, hear, speak and spend our most valuable commodity, our time?

A social medium

In its vast expanse, the Internet can also be wildly disorienting, a source of unreliable information and cultural exchange as deceptive and mesmerizing as the infinite reflection of opposing mirrors in a dressing room. So what exactly are we doing knocking our Conehead brains into the mind-meld of the Internet?

Are we evolving?

Could we be interconnected “modules of a planetary mind” as Global Brain scientist philosopher, Howard Bloom, suggests? Are we a “multiprocessor intelligence,” adapting to a new social dynamic, a digital territorial imperative? Or are we merely browsers and shoppers, grazers following the algorithms and marketing strategies of the real moguls out there?

Following the money

Are you a fan of gawker.com? Writers in the Gawker Media network can clock up to 357 million pageviews a week. Are you a friend on Facebook? Facebook, the McDonald’s of the Internet, and its top destination, serves 690 billion pageviews per month. That’s more than 15 million pageviews a minute. (Please don’t check my math.) Twitter? Chirps at 6.4 billion pageviews per month.

...or blogging in obscurity
Thanks to you, and the three readers online at this moment, this site has stats only a mother could love. In its first month, Turtle Crossing had 700 pageviews. And my guess is that at least half of those “views” in the first weeks were probably my own, duh, until I learned to turn off the tracker on my browser. Still, even three hundred pageviews in the blogosphere seems incredible to me, especially when I see a small, but growing “audience” of accidental tourists from Canada, Brazil, Portugal, U.K, France, Denmark, Germany, Russia and South Korea. (So what are you guys doing out there, and how the hell did you find me? Are you a true reflection or an illusion in my mirror?)

Don’t get me wrong. I love voyaging through the Internet, flying solo beneath the stratosphere, in this ramshackle craft I call myBlog. And why not? This is myPersonalSpace, myFriendshipPage, myFritterAwayYourTime, my creativeOutlet, myEBayWatch, MyOwnSlogging attempt to virtually ... what, dance with the stars?

“From Blogs to Riches”

Google the words, “From Blogs to Riches,” and what pops up on the webpage in “272,000 results in .19 seconds” is another terrain worth exploring. Here you’ll find a snapshot of the American Dream in extreme. Topping the list are the stories we love to read: the stuff of online legends, the get-rich-quick schemes and start-ups, the empires built in garages and college dormitories, the tireless Oprah picks and Huffington Reports, the Julia & Julia’s megablog success stories pulled out of the recipe books, zen gardens, and grocery carts of desperate housewives and divorcees. The is our Pop. Our Culture. Our Fix. We are tuned in and wired for curiosity and compliance.

This is not a rant, or even a complaint. I’m just saying . . . we’re a networking species by nature.

Reality check.

As free-and-easy and democratic as AllThisSpace is, (noting that I mean democratic with a lower case, not referring to the party) the realm and the future of the Internet belongs to those who are light years ahead of the throng. The vast distinction between the haves and have-nots in cyberspace is money. Influence and power. And there always will be: those who’ve got it and those of us who in no-way-on-this-green-Earth (or on any virtual flight into the Ethernet) will ever get it.

And pure economics - fame and fortune - are not the only factors at work. Apparently, there’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Clay Shirky, an instructor at New York University, suggests a “network theory,” contending that there's a mathematical model dictating the way information travels inside groups of loosely connected people, such as users of the Web. In an article on the blog boom published in 2006 (ages ago by Internet standards) writer, Clay Thompson cites Shirky's power-law curve:

The power law is dominant because of a quirk of human behavior: When we are asked to decide among a dizzying array of options, we do not act like dispassionate decision-makers, weighing each option on its own merits. Movie producers pick stars who have already been employed by other producers. Investors give money to entrepreneurs who are already loaded with cash. Popularity breeds popularity." Source: Blogs to Riches - The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom -- New York Magazine

“Social physics,” Shirky calls it. Like gravity, it’s one of those forces of nature. Imagine now: what will be. In the survival of the fittest.

(As always, thanks for stopping by.)

For more on Blogs to Riches:

Blogs to Riches: Perez Hilton Migrates Into Cosmetics, Fashion and Music

Rafat Ali: from blogs to riches Media guardian.co.uk

Blogs to Riches: Popularity and Traffic in the Blogosphere

Blogs to Riches - The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom -- New York Magazine

The Technorati Top 10

1. Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

2. TechCrunch http://www.techcrunch.com

3. Gizmodo http://www.gizmodo.com

4. Mashable http://mashable.com

5. Engadget https://www.engadget.com

6. Gawker http://www.gawker.com/

7. The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com

8. TMZ.com http://www.tmz.com

9. Boing Boing http://www.boinboing.net

10. Think Progress http://thinkprogress.org

Photo source: Ben Fry, New York Magazine


  1. Wowee! As someone who's been de-netted and de-blogged this past week, I'm all agog at the possibilities you've provided here. All these links! So little time! You've been busy while I've been disconnected. I'm catching up, starting here.


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