I had never heard of WELL until I had read this chapter which really surprised me considering I’m from th bay area and live right next to San Fransisco. What struck me as very interesting was not just the fact that this was the birth of a new technology, but that one can really see what two people can do when the only motivation (at least initially) is sheer curiosity. WELL wasn’t just a product or a sales pitch, it was a vision that stimulated communication and led to connections worldwide.
A reason why I believe they were so successful was that they initially target people with this shared general curiosity. Rheingold mentions that WELL gave away free accounts to journalists and other interested users. What better way to get word spread than from people who genuinely want the word to get out? Not just people who find it interesting, but people who are passionate about it.
To me, WELL seems to be an original founder of just about any form of communication on the internet whether it be chatting, im’ing, email, blogging, or forum posting. However, it seems to most closely reflect a topic based forum where people can come share, collaborate, or argue ideas, only it was just much broader. Today we have specific websites for specific topics and forums, back then it was all in one place. We take the idea of connecting with others for advantage sometimes, think of how devastated some of us would be without being able to chat with others online and communicate. Now take that imagined frustration and put it on the opposite spectrum to what it would feel like to initially have this technology at its brink. It would be pretty exciting.
Original ideas are something to be encouraged. It keeps the world fresh, on its toes, and most importantly, much more interesting. All of the original ideas that stemmed from WELL are likely uncountable which is why it was so successful.
Before reading this article, I had not heard of Bush before but I did know of Turing. Bush struck me not only as an extremely smart man, but as a very wise one as well. The direction he was able to see computers going is quite astounding and it makes you think twice about the powers man has by creating new technology. On the other hand, Turing may be a very brilliant man, but it is hard for me to agree with him on the grounds that computers will one day be able to “think” as humans do. After having taken philosophy and discussed this exact topic, I would have to say that no matter how human like a computer may appear, it will never have the conscious thought that we do.
Something I found most interesting about Bush was his idea of a tiny encyclopedia which he essentially predicted. What I found most interesting however was that he greatly contributed to the creation of the atomic bomb and then later advocated the peaceful use of technology rather than it’s destructive possibilities. This might sound a little cheesy, but I think the Terminator Series, especially Terminator Salvation, ties in with what Bush is trying to get at. In Terminator, machines take over the world after humans have assembled them. I don’t think this is exactly what Bush is saying could happen, but he is saying if humans don’t respect the power that these machines have and realize the power we have by creating them, the consequences could be very bad. It may not turn out to be the end of the world, but at what point are we dependent on machines and at what point are they using us? For ex. email is a very powerful tool as well as Facebook, but is there a point at which we use these too much? Does someone really need to spend 3 hours a day on a website? Also, how many peoples lives would be terribly affected if Facebook were to be shutdown for some reason? All of this seems to tie in with the idea of the atom bomb and how destructive such a small invention can be.
Turing however, wants to argue that machines will one day be able to surpass humans in thinking capability or at least be comparable if they already aren’t . Too see why I do not agree with this, imagine a robot who looks, talks, and acts exactly like us. One would be inclined to say that this robot is in fact thinking as we do, and this MAY be true but it all depends on your definition of what a machine is. First of all you would have to replicate the brain, which we to this day, we still know very little about. If the brain and other organs were replicated with similar materials to our own bodies in order to get “conscious states” then would the machine really even be a machine anymore? In a way, wouldn’t it be more like a clone than a machine? Also, the machine would have to be able to learn new ideas without our programming it. Again if this is only possible with human material as a means of building the machine, then I don’t believe the machine is a machine any longer. It seems machines would need something that only humans have in order to have true thoughts, and at that point the whole purpose of a machine is defeated.
Binary Star, a classic underground hip hop group composed of OneBeLo and Senim Silla are back on tour and working on new material. Some of the best lyricism you’ll ever hear. Master of the Universe is one of the greatest albums every composed with old school samples and beats and very creative and skillfull lyrics. There’s something for everyone on it and each song will slightly blow your mind. The duo of emcees along with rest of the Subterraneous Records independent label are featured on the album including Decompose (producer and emcee) Athletic Mic League, The KGB, Maliki, Zhao Ski, Juice and a few others. Truely a hidden underground gem in in the world of hip hop that needs to be discovered.