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Social Networking Threatens the World Wide Web on its 20th Birthday

How do you 'like' that?

You may think the World Wide Web and the Internet are the same thing. They're not. The Web is to the Internet what a city is to human existence. The first can't live without the second; the second is extended by the first. But they are not, and never can be, the same.

The Internet is a system of communications comprised of billions of computers that connect to each other through telecommunications lines. It allows people to interact in different ways like email, file upload, chat and, of course, the good old Web.

The Web is a function of the Internet, a kind of subset through which data files stored on a computer (called a server) can be accessed and viewed by people using a special piece of software called a browser. You're reading this with a browser and your browser is reading this as a file on a server and translating it into what you see. To do that, it uses a protocol called "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol" or "http". That is what makes the Web special because it produces "hot links" that you can click on to go to any site or page the link creator wants you to. In the links in this article, you go to other web pages and those pages have links of their own. You can keep clicking and deepen your knowledge, broaden your understanding, investigate other connected ideas and get other perspectives on those ideas.

The World Wide Web puts the knowledge and experience of the entire human race at your disposal. With the Web, the human race has finally experienced world-wide collaboration. That, essentially, is the power unleashed by the event that took place 20 years ago.

We can debate the Internet's contribution to social struggle but there is no question that the era of the Web has seen, among other things: the democratization of the previously dictator-dominated Latin America, the democratic struggles in Northern Africa, the ascendancy of Asian countries as world powers and the resulting democratic struggles those developments feed and, of course, the intense social struggles in the United States that have led to scores of movements, the massive Occupy movement and a black President (probably impossible before the Web).

Compare that to the year 1968 when every continent in the World was awash with resistance and mass movements -- fearing a revoutionary over-throw, the government of France actually moved its offices to Germany -- and when the culture and social norms of the United States were radically shifted by left-wing activism. Because much going on in the rest of the world was hidden by our corporate-controlled media, most of us in this country didn't realize it was happening. And so we thought we were all alone and, in that perceived isolation, we were not able to envision the next steps in a struggle to create a just world.

That will never happen again because we now have the Internet. We can envision the next step and we are taking it all the time. The difference is that forty-five years ago, "we" were the people of the United States (or some other individual society). In today's Web era, "we" are the entire world.

story | by Dr. Radut