This is the final event of what might be called The Triumph of the Machine - although we never saw it that way. It just seemed like the latest, cleverest, idea – which, of course, it was.
It triggered off a financial bubble of its own, which was called many things, such as the dot-com boom. But I was there, and I remembered clearly that is was the Internet boom – and, as it turned out, the Internet bubble. Everyone was certain that it would create tremendous business opportunities – but they had no idea what these would be. The result was a complete mess.
But eventually the smoke cleared, and smart heads in business (yes, there are a a few of those) realized what this really meant – total control of the world by Business – or Globalization. Made possible by the Net – and clever software that tied everything together. Control-at-a-Distance on Steroids.
A side-effect was the total control of the people in this Global Economy – which was easy, because they had been preconditioned by Television – which was also a network, but a send-only one. People had become used to accepting whatever the saw on the Tube.
For them, the Computer was just like their Television screen – except that it was two-way – they could talk to it, as well as listen to it. They had no idea what was going on behind that magic screen – and didn’t want to know – about anything, because the Computer was doing all the knowing for them.
I hardly need say this was a disastrous situation – in one stroke, people had been eliminated from the picture. And no one noticed.
It did not have to be this way. Like any of our other inventions, it can be very useful. I order books all the time from Amazon, and download books from Audible. And I write in my blog (as I am doing right now). For me, the Internet is a gigantic printing press – printing trash, however, for the most part.
But for most, it is something else entirely – some kind of magic that will make them all-powerful. This latest incarnation of this is LinkedIn.
I keep getting requests from people I haven’t heard from for years – wanting me to join their professional network on LinkedIn. These are always people who cannot be considered professionals in any sense of the world.
Real professionals have their own professional organizations – that give them ample opportunities for networking. The helpless souls on LinkedIn have nothing – but want to have everything, and LinkedIn seems to promise that. In reality, it is just another social site milking its members for all they are worth.
It might be worthwhile for a few hardy souls that understand what is going on – like anything else. But it usually does not pay to wade into a swamp infested with alligators.
Which is what the Internet has become.