Monday, 23 November 2009

A Remix Map In The Sea Of Knowledge

The thing about culture, the important thing about culture, is that it builds on the past (yes, that's building on the Terry Pratchett quote regarding football, from Unseen Academicals, which I'm evidently reading now), as they pretty much say in RiP: A Remix Manifesto. And what can be a more appropriate modern ground for us to discuss culture than the Internet, whose past is pretty short, despite the fact that it encompasses so much of it in its... webs.

As I recently realized, in the newly developing art of blogging, a very common way to remix, which seems to be the talk of the town on the Internets for a while now when it comes to copyright issues and all that, is linking. It 'builds on the past' pretty well, harnessing that which is, I feel, the primary power of the 'Net, the fact that most of the knowledge available to us as a race is on it. Everything is out there, as we often discover examples of for ourselves,for us to find and thus become a bit, or a lot, smarter because of it.

The only thing which is needed in this digital sea of knowledge is a way, or ways, to map our paths within it (the power that Google has now gained all starting from this fact alone), and links to other websites which have something to do with a different subject are, I find, an interesting, practical, interactive way to do so. You're reading a post about a subject that you find somewhat interesting, and you click on a link, or links, that relate to it, possibly linking from words within the text which you thought would link to something you'd want to read (if you didn't just check what they link to, there on the lower left of your browser). Kind of like surfing on from an article in wikipedia to a completely unrelated subject at the end.

I use links a lot in my posts, yes. This is partly (well, mostly) because I find this 'mapping the Internet' thing to be pretty vital. Our generation has access to a whole lot of knowledge - the modern Library of Alexandria, as I often say, something which makes me dread the day when it will all be 'burned down' through a destruction of the Internet in some way - but we're not always sure to find what we want, or what's best for our purposes. But the way in which these links work is virtually guaranteed to give us things we may want, or didn't even know we wanted before we were given access to it, while promoting what we find to be best or more convenient and available to us at least in the topics in question.

So, here's to a way (*lifts glass of mead*) to find a convenient method to find our way around this maze, to sail through the sea of knowledge, like the salty pirates that we've been forced to be, each of us doing our part, as little as it may be, building personal maps for people to sail after us - different to each other as they may be, where their topics of interest, in this case, are concerned - to become, ideally speaking, omniscient as they ought to become in the millennium we've just begun living in.