John Naughton is an Open University professor of the public understanding of technology; he has written a in today's Observer: "The internet: Everything you ever need to know"...(almost). Well worth a few minutes of your time.
Key points: 1. Taking a long term view, John writes an example of 'a thought experiment' (not entirely applicable due to modern universal education - amongst other things - but certainly relevant in that it gets the point across!) about what the long-term impact of the Internet will be. "The honest answer is that we simply don't know." 2. sounds obvious but 'the Web isn't the Net' (Of course there's more to it than that but I don't want to copy paste the whole thing here!). 3. How is it all moving forward so rapidly: mainly due to the two simple but effective propositions of the Internet's early architects (a) there should be no central ownership or control and (b) the network should not be built round the necessities of any particular application. 4. Think ecosystem not analytical framework. 5. It's complex, get used to it. 6. "Cloud computing": a transition from the PC really being the computer to the network being the computer: that sounds wierd but makes perfect sense and is perfectly true. 7. The web is changing...keep up media people! 8. Our bookends: a reference to Neil Postman - he of 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' fame (about TV) - "one of the 20th century's most perceptive critics of technology" and his prediction that the insights of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell would bracket our future "like a pair of bookends": the former believed that we would be destroyed by the things we love; the latter thought we would be destroyed by the things we fear. 9. Current copyright laws are out of touch (and the legislators/politicians) so much so that 'they are falling into disrepute'. 10. the postscript: is there is a "truth" about the internet? What are the long-term implications?
"...the only rational answer is the one famously given by Mao Zedong's foreign minister, Zhou Enlai, when asked about the significance of the French Revolution: "It's too early to say."