Commentary & Analysis
Once Upon a Time on the World Wide Web
by Jim Olsen September 15,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: September 15, 2003
by Jim Olsen September 15, 2003 -- Once upon a time, the Great Earth Wizard threw sand and metal worms into his magic potent kettle. He stirred in some thunderbolts and poof - out popped an electric machine! He called the machine a computer because it was able to count numbers. It could also draw letters of the alphabet by touching ON and OFF switches. It was truly a magical machine. The machine was so big that it filled the entire ballroom of a castle. However, over the years some very smart elves figured out how to make computers very tiny, much smarter, and very, very fast. Since they were so much smaller and less expensive, the elves were able to deliver these new tiny machines to almost every house on earth. The earth people were joyful when they found that they could write fairy tales and play games on their new computers. In the meantime, another Wizard named Mo, a transplanted Brooklyn-ite, who lived in the Valley of the Silicon Chips, invented another magical gadget. Mo dubbed them “mo” dems because they were so prolific. Soon an army of “mo” dems spread throughout the earth. They encountered the tiny computers that were virtually everywhere and became very attached to them. The “mo” dems discovered that when they talked to each other, they could also help the little computers talk to each other at the same time. Even before the teeny tiny computers learned how to talk with each other, some people that worked for Big Uncle Samuel were secretly working on some magic for the big computers that were housed in the ballrooms throughout the world of Earth. They were teaching the big computers how to talk to each other at any time and anywhere. When they became successful at their task, they decided to call what they were doing the Internet. Now, up to that point, most of the stuff the big computers talked about with each other were just words and numbers. Plus they had to know each other's address. It was a very mysterious situation, and it seemed that only the very smart people at the universities and colleges, and the very secret people that worked for Big Uncle Samuel knew how to have their big computers communicate like this. Then one day a very important thing happened. Another wizard who called himself the Wizard of the World found out about the Internet, and decided to teach the little computers how to play in the big game. He invented something called the World Wide Web. Not only could the little computers play in the game and talk to each other and the big computers, but they could send each other beautiful pictures , and find each other very easily even when they didn't know each others' addresses! All they needed to do was lazily browse around the world. Pretty soon just about everybody on earth could talk to each other this way. But there was a very serious problem. Most people on Earth had long ago given up the idea of foraging for food and hunting animals for meat. Instead they learned how to play a big game called “Let's Play Business”. They became so good at the game that they depended on it to provide food and other stuff like pretty houses and shiny cars. Well, when they found out about the Internet and The Wizard of the World's World Wide Web, many of them thought they could figure out how to make it part of “Let's Play Business”. Alas, this was a very difficult thing to do. However, there were a few Earth people who were successful. They were the ones who learned how to help others play the game, but very very few who played the game knew how win at it. And to this day, Earth people are continuing to search for ways to win on the World Wide Web. I'm sure, however, that another great wizard will finally figure it out, and there will be lots of smiling and happy people on the World of Earth.