Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Fifth Discovery

There's always a danger in overemphasizing the importance of the new. Ask a group of teenagers for the top 10 songs of all time and they'll likely list 10 songs that have come from the last year or two. But that doesn't means that the new is always insignificant. The fifth most important discovery is not the computer (as ubiquitous and important as the computer is) but the computer network. And the reason, as Sun Microsystems has pointed out, is that the network is the computer.

Today computer networks are transforming society. Computers are useful, but networked computers are powerful. Networks facilitate information sharing, and information is gold. From social networking like Facebook to user participation sites like Wikipedia to the host of companies which now sell and advertise over the Internet, networks are huge. Frankly I can't tell you whether Facebook or Wikipedia or will still exist a couple of years from now, but computer networking will and it will transform our society on a level not seen since the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the printing press.


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