Sunday April 30th marks the worldwide web’s 30th anniversary as it debuted in the public domain. The free-access worldwide web is one of the biggest transformational moments in my living history, and I can’t help but wow at all the new forms of communication WWW gave rise to – texting, social media, professional online meeting, personal dating – to name a few. Now, for many of us, hardly an hour goes by without this digital layer of connection.
Like other new things, we have worn our digital skins with both fear and fascination. Does texting make us dumb? Does social media bring out the savage in us? Are we losing humanity to online meeting platforms? In the wrong hands and careless governance, all these things can happen. Equally, though, in the right hands and with good monitoring, our digitally globalized communication has the capacity to improve the quality of our communication, improving not only what we say as individual speakers but also growing the depth and amplitude with which we listen.
In the 1970s, psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi introduced us to the flow model that hypothesized that individuals are at their happiest when they’re in the flow. This intuitive idea captured the imagination of many, especially in business and education, and prevails in the age of the internet. I can’t help but wonder what happens to flow in the context of a more astute listening audience post-WWW? I would have loved to have asked the professor who unfortunately passed away in 2021.
I’m guessing WWW-enhanced audience power today is huge. Battling my old boiler, I see that even in the simple and closed system of a boiler, the returning water affects the flow of the circuit in big ways, so the impact in an open world must be exponential. I’ll ask some open-world gamers on how they see flow and muse some more to this end in another post.
In the meantime, happy 30th WWW! In the UK, enjoy the first of three 3-day weekends in May!