There are various types of being On the Internet.
Here are some rough groupings, to give a sense of what is meant by “types of being on the Internet.”:
- the super-connected – these are people who interact heavily online, are quickly available by Skype, IM, IRC, probably have a blog, news aggregator, interact in various forums, know the names of various technologies needed to sustain this, etc., etc.,.
- the posters – these are people who interact on the Internet, but mostly through chat rooms, bulletin boards, and what not. They approach super-connected when they get IM, which is always on.
- the voyeurs – the vast majority of people who are “on the Internet” are not actually on the Internet. Rather, they are “voyeurs,” who click, read, click, read, but do not participate.
Now, let’s consider some particular technologies.
If you use Skype to place a phone call occasionally, this is not “On The Internet.” Consider telephone calls, on the plain old telephone system. Nobody can see what you are doing, it’s not on ThePublicWeb, you’re basically invisible to the Internet.
However, if you were to, say, make yourself available to everybody on the Internet, and have things like the Jabber Presence signals we see in some forums, and stuff like that, then that instant Skype-availability can help separate you from the posters, towards the realm of the super-connected. People can reliably get ahold of you, and all.
Some other things to note:
- TheInternetIsSlow – participating online right now is a sort of painful process, because it takes so long to participate. This is a fact of 2005.
- There is something of a transition process between being offline and online. It takes time to attach the network technology hooks onto ourselves, as well as to detach the network technology hooks from ourselves. It is hardly an instantaneous process. Also a fact of 2005.
- Greater degrees of being OnTheInternet is sort of like being more involved in the InterMind, the HiveMind, whatever we want to call it (HiveMindName.)
As we approach PervasiveComputing, doubtless, these things will change.
voyeur superconnected online culture pervasivecomputing
Heh heh, such a simple and obvious-seeming page, but something tells me that the concept and its effects will become weirder and more important as PervasiveComputing takes hold. I can’t really say why I think that, though.