Raising the Connection Machine

We often speak of the Internet and new technologies as something happening to us, taking over every industry, consuming our attention. One of my struggles with media and new technology is our infatuation with the new, without questioning whether some technologies really make our lives significantly better.

The connection machine (thanks Seth Godin for the term) is significantly changing everything, for both better and worse, but it’s not happening to us. It is something that we created and have the power to shape and develop. As a creation of humans, it reflects the best and worst that humanity has to offer as well.

In a recent interview, Tiffany Shlain (filmmaker and found of the Webby Awards) described the Internet, now about 20 years old, as a child in its adolescence. As it grows into maturity, she explained, we have the opportunity to shape what it will become. Like a child, the Internet can have its own set of virtues and we can point to and draw out the best that it has to offer.

This makes me more excited than ever to build websites and technologies that truly help people and make the world a better place, and gives a whole new meaning to the term “web development”.

In one of his famous quotes, Steve Jobs points to a significant moment in his life when he realized how much power we truly have to shape the world around us.

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. 

Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. 

That’s a very limited life. 

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. 

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Who will this connection machine grow up to be? I’m excited to find out.