Response to Digitize Everything: The Internet Lives

The main theme of this chapter of the book The Digitization of Just About Everything by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (which I would like to note is a digital book, with PDF copies on sale for 8.95) is that the easy replication and distribution of digital information is the backbone of modern information systems such as the internet. Building off of this, they comment on how this creates a system in which it is difficult to produce information and digital products, but easy to reproduce them (there is nothing quite as useful in life as the copy paste function). I think their argument applies heavily to the work we do in class in multiple ways. For one, it applies literally. It takes time and energy to write code, but using functions such as classes, we are able to duplicate information that we have designed and spent time processing.

In a more metaphorical sense, however, This theory applies to students as well. There is a lot of effort needed to learn how to code. Once we have learned how to code however, we are able to more easily replicate, and even alter based upon what we have learned. Each of these systems evolves and grows over time as new information is added.

Another thing that the chapter details is how the immense amount of data on the internet (already measured in terms of zettabytes even in 2015 when it was written) serves to continuously allow the second machine age to progress, as more information equals the ability to further develop technology. As databases from academic search engines to wikipedia and even services like yelp expand, they become more accurate and expansive. Information is available at the press of a button, and it keeps getting better.

I’ve noticed it myself over the years. I was born in 1999, and was just barely able to understand the significance of the smartphone when the first Iphone came out in 2007. Since then, the effects of  Moores law have continuously unveiled  before my eyes. Sometimes it feels like I am growing at the same time as the internet. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the internet from a living, thinking thing. This is partly because of the similarity between how humans build information and experiences over the course of their lives, and how this web of interconnected information gathering processes does the same over the course of its life.

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