When I was reading some Warhammer 40k books, there was I certain part which made me wondering. The setting takes place some thousand years in the future but most of the technology they are using is also hundreds or thousand years old. Funny thing about it: for most of the technologies it has been forgotten how to use them. I was asking myself: ‘How can you forget how a certain technology works?’
I then compared this – for me – strange (ya, fine it is a sci-fi setting) handling of technology with our current use and handling of technology. Another funny thing: The same happens to the Internet…to a certain degree. Of course everything is written down in letters as well as in 1’s and 0’s and I do not see any reason why all this should be erased. Well, and of course all the experts who know how the Internet works will not die at the same time all the information about the Internet are erased. That is not what I am saying… . I also do not mean the technical specifics like, how the TCP/IP protocol is programmed.
What I mean is, for the first couple of years when the Internet was running, all and later most of the users on the Internet knew how the Internet worked. What know? Most of the people on the Internet do not even know anymore how to access (not find!) a website when Google is down. Okay, that’s pathetic in a way. I also think that it is only the relative number of people who use the Internet and know how it works does decrease and not the absolute number, but still. How can so many people use a technology they do not have the slightest idea of how it works? Not only the Internet but computers in general. I thought, my generation should be the generation who knows how it works, because it will be the main technology we are dealing with for the most part of our life. But maybe I am wrong.
What are the implications? Of course, the knowledge of how it works is not to be forgotten in the next few decades. The only thing is, that the Internet can – if inappropriately used – do much more harm then the television, mobile phones or light bulbs. Not backing up and relying on your information stored safely on your computer can cost you all the pictures you took for the past few years – and a lot of people made this experience. Inappropriately applying privacy and security measures on both, computer and Internet, can cost you a lot of trouble and even cause lost of money and identity. That are only some outcomes. These are the reasons why politicians try always to blame computers or the Internet technology. But it is not the technology to be blamed but the people who are using it that they are not educated enough for what they are doing. This lack of knowledge is far more dangerous than the technology. But because the technology can be used to cause a lot of harm, we should never forget how it works.
The more complex a system is, the more dangerous and fruitful can be its application. It is up to the user to chose the side he or she will be on.