The “Internet Day” is an annual celebration of the internet on the 13th of March. The date was selected as a tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who on that day submitted the document “Information Management: A Proposal,” which would later go on to become the World Wide Web we now know and love. The first Internet Day was officially celebrated on March 13, 2010.
Few weeks ago humanity celebrated the 15th anniversary of the world’s first “dot.com” known as symbolics.com. The symbolics.com domain was originally registered on March 15, 1985, making it the first “.com” domain in the world. However, on August 27, 2009, it was sold to XF.com Investments.
Today familiar names have conquered cyberspace in all ways possible. Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Youtube are among the most popular websites in the world. Indeed, online communication has become an ever-growing component in modern life.
Internet protocols, almost by definition, tend to go in all direction. Events may be merely busy, of course – a sort of itch of the unusual, or an irritation perhaps? It would have been entirely difficult to deal the Asian Tsunami (2004), Sichuan quake (2008), Haiti and Chile quakes (2010) without modern communications technology, and of course the internet. Remember the Haiti Quake Telethon online?
The web can disseminate news but when the news is momentous, it may run toward darker, murkier spectrum, towards war and catastrophe. The Iraq War, the downfall and hanging of Saddam Hussein became online sensation as well as Michael Jackson’s untimely demise in 2009 that caused tremendous internet traffic jam worldwide (CNN, June 26, 2009).
U.S. President Barack Obama was a Youtube hit in 2008. His “Yes We Can” speech and political slogan (music video performed by will.i.am) were as magnificent as his unexpected victory in the Iowa Caucus which later on propelled him to the White House. His online campaign and fund raising drive were among the first breakthroughs in modern politics. Today movie stars and other political leaders have their own Facebook or Twitter accounts with thousands of online followers.
Yet sometimes the internet does rise toward the shores of wisdom. Sometimes history responds not merely to the prompting of mere coincidences or blind accidents or the practical laws of physics or the difficult economic tides but to the pressure of ideas or to a kind of coalescence of yearnings. “I have a dream,” cried Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial (August 28, 1963) and is now widely available online. Luther King’s dream and others made the news and history, as completely as any bomb or earthquake did today.
There are individual dreams and collective dreams. Charles Lindbergh’s trajectory across the Atlantic (May 1927) was a vivid feat of individualism. He became one of the last romantic heroes of his time. He brilliantly employed the technology of flight in its primitive stage, before technology seemed to overwhelm the individual. If the American space program produced a triumph of teamwork (Apollo 11 Mission, 1969) in an age when hundreds of human brains collaborate, like microchips, in the mastery of so much detail, Lindbergh’s flight represented a peculiar momentum of human spirit. It was a lonely achievement of the rational being, self-contained, self-confident, in motion across great distances. Lindbergh perfectly embodies a mystic mechanic. He arched up into another element. He took human possibility into another atmosphere.
Martin Luther King’s dream was also a collective dream. It was an ingathering of rational souls. It was a moral encampment, the first mass demonstration of an age in which politics streamed into streets. The internet does the reverse. What was commonly known as mass outpourings, racial uprisings, people power demonstrations, and the antiwar marches on the streets have now shifted to the “blogosphere.” Whether the sense imitations of the March on Washington can still be matched in modern society, the efforts to recapture the essential sweetness and energy and its unassailable moral force is still there.
With few exceptions such as the Philippine’s People Power (Edsa, 1986), the subsequent demonstrations, riots, moratoriums, – had a fallen, mitigated and sometimes violent character. They never regained that quality of urgent dignity and imposing rhetoric that Luther King Jr., Cory Aquino, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi showed to the world through nonviolent mass action.
These events of the spirit always seemed to involve motion. Economic powerhouse is slowly moving eastward after long period of western domination. ASEAN, Brazil, India and Russia are on the rise. Mexico now has the world’s richest person (Forbes, 2010) for the first time in almost 2 decades and Japan’s imperial symbol Toyota Motors is on the brink collapse amidst vehicle defect scandal.
Of course China survived the tainted milk scandal and successfully batted swine flu virus. It had staged a highly successful Olympic Games, opened to traffic the longest bridge and inaugurated the fastest commercial train service in the world. Aside from the fact China is now the United State’s largest creditor (CNN, Nov. 16, 2009), it also showcased its military prowess in a highly successful 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic and emerged from the financial crisis with about 8% economic growth in 2009 (ADB, 2009).
The information superhighway has become a responsive and indispensable tool for humanity. Irrespective of the laboratory setup of science and the arena of education, economics and politics, the world is becoming an international community skillfully governed by the laws of the dot.com.
— The author is freelance writer and physics lecturer from the Philippines. He lives in China.