The Web is the Culture of the World

I’ve been doing some thinking about what I said in my post below about the BBC interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, where I said “The Web is the culture of the world.” I immediately started wondering if the Web truly was our culture, what are its values then? Even more so, I started wondering if one could define these cultural values could people start using them to get more in synch with the changes that are happening in the world. In effect, my greatest question was if a business started following these cultural values, what would happen? Would it fail miserably or would it become incredibly successful? And of course if it became successful then wouldn’t it be the perfect example and role model for other businesses to follow who also want to change with the times. This is extremely important because the only way other businesses will get on board is if they can actually see the beneficial results that other companies are having. In other words, lead by example.

Thinking about Business Logs and other similar ventures trying to show businesses how blogging can help them, I thought I’d find the answer there about these cultural values. I didn’t. More than anything I kept hearing more about how the technology of blogs could help a business without much emphasis on the cultural change needed for blogging to actually work. There were hints about culture but they didn’t come up as much as I wanted them to.

Finally, I remembered about my talks with David Weinberger some years back and that reminded me of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Were these cultural values of the Web defined within it? After rereading some key chapters I discovered that, yes, they were but…not as evidently as I wanted them to be. I think the closest thing I found to a list of cultural values was a list in Chapter Five: The Hyperlinked Organization (pg 125) entitled The Character of the Web.

The Character of the Web

  • Hyperlinked
  • Decentralized
  • Hypertime
  • Open, direct access
  • Rich data
  • Broken
  • Borderless

While these are definitely not what I would call the character traits of an individual, I still think they can lead to discovering and defining these cultural values that the Web is helping us to remember. That’s right. I honestly believe, as it was mentioned in The Cluetrain Manifesto, that these cultural values are nothing new. If anything, they have existed with us for thousands of years until only recently and with the proliferation of the Web we are once again rediscovering these values from our past. As I mentioned before, cultures influence people just as much people influence cultures. We are doing this on the Web by sharing stories and having conversations. In doing so we are not only passing on what is important to us individually but also what is important to us as a culture and people. It is cultural information that can influence and guide us into this future of change.