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A better way to understand the internet: weather

A useful metaphor allows us to manage our work around a force of nature. We think of the internet as a manmade thing but it's gotten way out of hand. Now all we can do is learn how to ride it. Or should I say--ride it out? (Everything below was written by "Blogdana".)

@Bogdana: A metaphorical explanation for the Internet (for planners), 2019-Sep-7

For a very long time, I thought of the Internet as a whole other world with its very separate rules. A separate but a complete world. A world that was missing physicality but had everything else. People, relationships, marketplaces, connections, content, feelings, etc. Everything you find in the real world. So what you needed to do was not very unlike what your do IRL, but accounting for the lack of physicality. The truth is this view of the Internet helps only up to a point.... 

Now, I think of the Internet as similar to the climate or weather patterns.... the Internet “moves” operates across three layers:

  1. There’s medium-sized, local “weather fronts” — patches of information that move within a set “space”, defined by various coordinates: a community of followers on social, a specific forum, a newspaper’s readers, etc. This is why where you “live” on the Internet is important and this is what some people describe as your internet bubble....
  2. There’s small but intense storms. You know these: memes, trends and virals. Things that form small, grow exponentially in size, and hop from one community to the next. Think of them as tornados. That visualisation is important because it reflects how this information cluster circulates. Tornados are punctual and sometimes expand, but mostly they move fast in a direction. Very much like virals or memes leave the communities where they grew and move on to “attack” other spaces. It’s hard to understand where and how these tornados will form, much harder to get them to form. But not impossible. They are also hard to control and usually not brand-made :)... 
  3. Finally, there’s the jetstreams. The big guys, those who pretty much decide everything else above and below. This is things that really form in people’s heads over time and then begin to influence how people behave online. Think of adblocking. Think of widespread adoption of better data practices. Think of people using password storage software. These are widespread practices which are not temporary, they grow hand in hand with, and as a response to, the development of the Internet itself.

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