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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Internet, Happy Birthday To You



When 20 people watched meanlingless data travel through a gray cable at Kleinrock's lab at the University of California, Los Angeles they had no idea that they were watching the birth of a baby... a very Big baby whose tiny gray umbilicle cable would morph and expand to encompass the whole world including the air around us and the floors of our oceans.

Happy Birthday Internet, today you are forty.  When I was a tiny babe, sleeping away in my crib, you were born just five months after me -- neither of us had a clue of how our lives would intertwine or how all of the other babes sleeping in their cribs and mothers and fathers tending them would one day buy their books, movie tickets, and keep up with their long lost cousin Robert via the tentacles you spread throughout the earth.

Happy Birthday Internet.
You are a tool that has been used for great good and great evil.  I remember the early days - the early 90's when I first begain to teach about you and a little old lady downtown asked me "How can you call yourself a Christian and teach that horrible thing?"  As I said to her, "well, Mam, good Christians live in Atlanta and bad things happen there too!)

Happy Birthday Internet.
I remember when my sister showed me Wikipedia for the first time and how long it took me to be willing to blog and wiki (the mid 2000's) with my students but also how once I realized the great opportunities that you brought, how these tools became my best friends in the fight to educate my students well.

Happy Birthday Internet.
I am suprised by how many people still hate you and blame you for the demise of society.  How many people refuse to allow you to be taught about in schools -- maybe by the time you're 80 and about to be replaced by something else, you'll be taught a little bit.

Happy Birthday Internet
You were 31 before anyone really had heard of you and around 35 before everyone really got excited.  You caused a big increase in the stockmarket and then your bubble burst and caused a minor recession.  Whole companies were invented based upon your service that quickly became behemoths of advertising and media and are continuing to shake up the world as we know it.

And Many more..
We do not know what the future holds but we do know that you're in it - playing a bigger role than ever because so many of us are using you to share freely the knowledge that is in our brains.  We're melding our efforts, flattening our classrooms, merging our minds to make bigger and better opportunities.  Politics, business, and now education is going global upon your back as you ride faster than the winds and currents to deliver bits of each of us to the far reaches of this planet.

And yet, even with all you've brought we still have so many of the common human struggles... life, death, love, loss, war, famine... these are all things we continue to keep with us... and yet, there are many possibilities you hold to help us combat these things and shape the political future of this planet in ways we cannot as of yet understand.  Who would have thought that 140 characters could change the world, and yet back in July, we saw Twitter turn green during the elections in a repressive country.  We have seen presidents elected by Facebook, Twitter, and youtube and have only begun to see how this tool will shape our world.

Happy Birthday Internet... I for one am thankful for the gift you've brought me.

And yet, may we never forget that the Internet is just a thing... not a person.  A thing that makes our lives better and yet cannot replace the lives that live with us in our homes.  Internet, you're great... but when my 8 year old cherub of a son comes padding into the den... I turn you off and hold him and read a book.

I'm glad to have you around, Internet... but may I never let you be a barrier between me and those I love most... your purpose is to bring me closer to humans never to drive me away.

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