Thursday, May 19, 2005


David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined
Chapter 2: Space

The Web changes our perception of Space and hence changes our perception of what it means to a human living in space.

Real world space has the hard edges of fixed dimensions. It is a pre-existing container of fixed size that we are stuck with as part of reality. Geography can be and often is a restrictive tyranny. Australia has been described by historians (Blainey) as the tyranny of distance.

Web space, by contrast is entirely created by humans. It’s not a fixed space, it’s an expanding space, google is searching 8,058,044,651 web pages and returns results in a fraction of a second. That is almost miraculous :-)

Now we have blogs and sites that search and categorise blogs. Check out technorati, blogdex, bloglines etc. It grows. And as it gets bigger your ability to find your way around has perhaps surprisingly increased. Search has dramatically improved. It’s now far easier to find and conveniently reference quality information on the Web.

Imagine a place with billions of rooms with magic doors that are psychically linked to other rooms by the interests of the people travelling from room to room. Your nearness to other rooms is created by your level of interest. Is that magic or is that the Web?

When you visit a web site do you feel that the web site is travelling to you or that you are travelling through space to the web site? Even though the web page is being downloaded to my computer my subjective feeling is that I’m travelling somewhere else to that web page. The Web has the feel of place about it, it is place-ial, so it feels spatial
In the final analysis, we seem to have a choice of metaphors that are equally suited to the task. We could think of the Web as a giant photocopier that delivers copies of sites. We could think of it as a medium through which we see sites. We could think of it as a library from which we request copies. But we don’t. We experience the Web as a web: a set of nodes that are linked one to another, creating a space through which we travel. (40)


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