On Technology
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On Technology

2 Types of Internet

Philosophizing on technology

“What is the internet?” I ask you.

“A collection of devices connected by wires”, you reply.

“And what does it do?”

“The devices can communicate information with each other”, you continue. “For example, your phone and my phone are part of this network. I type in a message on WhatsApp. Moments later, it reaches your phone. My phone communicates with your phone.”

“And has the internet always been like this?”

“More or less.”

“Then what has changed?”

“Well”, you consider, “More devices are part of the network, more types of devices, and the network itself has got faster, broader, and more reliable.”

“And how will it change in the future?”

“It will get faster, broader and more reliable. And more and more devices will join the internet.”

I’m silent.

“Do you agree? Did I give you the right answers?”, you prod.

“Yes — all you’re answers were correct.”, I reply unconvincingly.

“You don’t seem convinced”, you reply.

“Well, you’re talking looking at the internet as a collection of devices and connections, as a collection of objects. You’re looking at the internet Objectively.”

“How else would you look at the internet?”

“You could look at it subjectively.”


“You could look at it from the point-of-view of a subject: A subject that observes the internet. Like you or me.”

“How is that different?”

“Well, looking at this subjectively, when I send you a message on WhatsApp, I’m actually extending my senses over space. You may be thousands of miles away, by I can text, hear or see you as if you were right next to me.”

“Yes — I see that. But how is this subjective view different from an objective view?”

“Well — in some ways, it is different. But in other ways, it’s very different.”

“In what ways?”

“For example, looking at things objectively, you said the internet will be faster, broader, and more reliable in the future. But looking at it objectively, in the future, the internet will extend our senses more and more completely.”

“I see. Is that important?”

“Yes — and no — it is just a different way of looking at the internet. And, in a sense, measuring the internet. An alternative to speed, bandwidth and reliability.”

“How so?”

“In the future, we might measure the internet in terms of how well it extends and expands our eyes and ears, and perhaps even our tongues, noses, and skin.”

Now, it is your turn to be silent.

“That seems a bit disappointing.”, you continue.


“Well, with all this technology, are we merely trying to get better at seeing, hearing, tasting etc.?”

“It looks like that”

“That’s depressing.”


“Well, why can’t we get better at other things?”

Is there anything else to get better at?”

Image Source: MaxPixel




Articles on Technology, Computer Science, and Engineering by Nuwan I. Senaratna

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Nuwan I. Senaratna

Nuwan I. Senaratna

I am a Computer Scientist and Musician by training. A writer with interests in Philosophy, Economics, Technology, Politics, Business, the Arts and Fiction.

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