Knowledge is taking on the shape of the Net—that is, the Internet. Of all the different communication networks we’ve built for ourselves, with all their many shapes—the history of communication networks includes rings, hubs-and-spokes, stars, and more—the Net is the messiest. That gives it a crucial feature: It works at every scale.
Of course, the Net can scale that large only because it doesn’t have edges within which knowledge has to squeeze. No edges mean no shape. And no shape means that networked knowledge lacks what we have long taken to be essential to the structure of knowledge: a foundation
I really enjoy this quote not only because it rather concisely breaks down the structure of the internet, but also because it breaks down the previous notions of what knowledge needed. It personally makes me want to explore further into how knowledge is shaped by its medium – specifically how the knowledge on the internet was shaped back in a time when it wasn’t limitless. Of course, in it’s origin, the internet was a place of academia, and as its space grew, so did decrease its (exclusive) filtration (as opposed to forward filtration).
In a wild tangent, I found the difference between books and the internet to be very similar to the differences in the growth of cities. For example NYC and OKC – both need to house huge populations, but the former, in its limited space, chose to build up, while the latter, with its limitless land, began its urban sprawl outwards.
The reason I find the dawn of the internet so fascinating is because it’s akin to a city that starts with very limited space, but as time progresses, begins to rapidly gain land – a situation that I don’t think exists in the real world (although, of course, if it does, please let me know). As this course progresses and we understand further how knowledge as a whole has been affected by internet and technology, I look forward to expanding this ridiculous metaphor.