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Isn't it amazing how many pieces of ourselves we leave scattered on the web, like photos or items from our wallet scattered along a winding street? Emails are sent and saved, blogs composed and posted, electronic searches, chats, credit card charges, and other transactions happen daily. We can forget the web is not only vast in size and scale, but equally vast in the dimension of time. I have left many moments of myself on this web since its start, though (fortunately) some pieces have been lost to the ether.

Yet what isn't here on the web now because it has been forgotten, still can be found in one of the Internet archives. What was a newly-born and confused web then in the past, contributes to a more complex web now. We access a web entangled both in terms of its present, prolific growth and in terms of its changing linkages to new data and information (as forward, time marches). We access distinct websites for information because right now the web isn't alive; information complexity adds to intra- and inter-organizational tensions, 'silos', and disconnects.

The web we access isn't self-organizing. Instead, it exists is a wonderful example as to how the processes of creation can quickly become cluttered and entropic. Yet life does find form and does organize itself, both in terms of lifestages associated with an individual lifeform and in terms of initiative variations and natural selection within the legacy of a species. Perhaps to be self-organizing is to be alive? So too, for the web, there are iterative causalities (i.e., links) to its data, information, and knowledge. This gives hope that one day the web too will become capable of self-organizing itself without human intervention. Would it then not become alive? The web we access (and are a social part of) is already nearly genetic in its programmed code, memetic in its exchanges, but as a whole not yet part of a larger, living system. It cannot self-organize itself into a wholly new, more beneficial form independently -- yet.

Moving forward, linked data, information, and knowledge, embodied by the web, will need to know what it is and be able to learn more about what it is both internally and externally in relation to other data and information elements, through interaction with other elements. This is how we, as humans, live and learn as individuals (and as societies) through iterative, interactive experiences. Current information systems are limited, as they cannot rapidly adapt to turbulent situations or new environments. To organize itself more efficiently, the web we access will need to be self-organizing and self-improving (i.e., alive).

—David Bray (01.2007)

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