Humans of the Internet Are Smart

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Today I had the opportunity to join the fine people of Digg for a conversation about some of the issues raised in my recent story on the ephemerality of the web. (Thanks, Digg!) It was so fun, and people asked the smartest questions. (Seriously, go read them.) I already know I’m going to be stuck on one in particular for a while. Here’s what Ruben Lightfoot had to say in response to my story:

It made me think about the nature of the web and what roles we expect it to play in our future. I wonder, for example, if the real value of such a rapid communication tool is really in the ability to be connected instantly to the ​*current*​ state of human knowledge? In other words, is it wrong for us to even expect the Internet to be a memory bank for future generations to leaf through the way we read old newspapers? Perhaps what we’re looking at is a technology gap which is waiting for someone to develop a new technology that sits alongside the Internet to serve this function?

How much do you love that? (And, um, can somebody hurry up and invent that new technology, please?) I know the web isn’t perfect, but it’s thought-provoking exchanges like the one with Digg this afternoon that remind me why I love the Internet so much.