The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


March 6, 2006


The Personal Implications of the Information Age

I’ve talked before about how much the internet will mean to the overhaul of the world as we know it. I said that the implications of the internet as a self-publishing medium of political information will break the old media’s stranglehold on what is “the message” that reaches the people in this world. Specifically, I said that the internet was going to save liberty in the world.

But that’s on the macro level. How will it directly affect the lives of individuals? What does the internet mean to us on a personal level. Specifically, how will the ready access to information change the daily lives of individuals?

I’m part of that point just in the transition between Generation X and Generation Y. I’m old enough to remember life before cell phones were pervasive (remember when doctors & drug dealers were the only ones?), and before the internet had become a part of daily life. But I’m also young enough to grow up in the middle of it and understand it (being an electrical engineer & a geek— redundant, I know— helps), to the point where I utilize the internet in ways even my older siblings do not, and in ways that my parents don’t even know exist.

Being connected to the internet has made me learn things at the young age of 27 that I would have taken decades to realize otherwise. I look at folks like Eric, who are a fair amount older than I am, and who I never would have “met” in life before the internet. But the ability to interact with people like him, the whole crew at The Liberty Papers, and the wider groups of commentors and bloggers that I’ve interacted with over the last year, have changed the way I see the world.

Through the internet, I am the instant beneficiary of knowledge I would have taken years upon years to find. I stumbled upon Ayn Rand in high school quite accidentally, but had I not found bloggers, how many years might I have taken before finding an author like Heinlein? More on the political front, I’ve been able to witness viewpoints and arguments by premier thinkers on all nature of subjects, from economics, to Constitutional law, that have tremendously widened the access to that knowledge. Instead of having to read through obtuse textbooks, I have access to the meat of argument, usually with counter-arguments immediately available. I can read point-counterpoint, and determine for myself which argument makes more sense. And if I want to read those books? Well, from recommendations of fellow bloggers, to the reviews on amazon.com, I can find wonderful books that I never would have come across before, like this one, which I enjoyed immensely but never would have thought to buy without the glowing recommendation of Eric.

But enough about politics, let’s talk beer! Yes, the internet isn’t only useful for obscure political ramblings, it can bring us closer to the things we love (like beer!). When in California, on a whim I picked up a beer called Arrogant Bastard Ale. I knew nothing at the time of the craft beer industry, or of any of Stone Brewing’s other offerings. It was purely an impulse buy. But again, the internet came to the rescue!

I found beeradvocate.com, a place for devotees of beer culture. I found this (on the recommendation of blogger Uncle Jack) just before I started homebrewing. Not only has it been a wonderful resource to learn about great beers I never would have heard of otherwise, it’s been a tremendous help to my learning curve in the homebrewing process. I had learned that Stone Brewing is more than just marketing, it’s one of the most respected craft breweries in the country. On Beer Advocate’s top 100 beers, they brew the #2 beer, and have 4 in the top 40.

The other day, while in Chattanooga, I picked up a bottle of Stone Brewing’s Ruination IPA (number 27 on the Top 100). I tasted it last night, and told myself that this is what I want to brew for my next batch! It’s an over-the-top grenade full of hops, a truly puckering bitterness in a easily-drinkable refreshing package. I don’t know how they do it, but I want to try. So I started searching. Knowing that it’s often that homebrewers are able to replicate commercial breweries, I wanted to find out how to brew my own Ruination IPA. A quick google search brought me to this recipe, which Stone actually provided free to that site. I can now make an attempt to brew a beer at least similar to Ruination IPA.

Would I know what I now know about homebrewing without Beer Advocate? Definitely not. Would I have had any way to try to recreate a commercial beer, absent years of study and practice and many bad batches of beer along the way? Probably not.

It doesn’t stop there. I wouldn’t have learned as much as I had about motorcycling without the internet. I never would have had a chance of creating my home-built DVR without the internet. In all aspects of life, it gives me access to information and experience that I would have taken years to acquire otherwise.

There is a discussion in sci-fi circles about The Singularity, the point at which computing power grows at an exponential level to a near-infinity state. It discusses a point in time that none of us can truly adequately predict what happens on the other side, an event horizon. Now, I don’t know whether we’ll hit that point, or what it will mean for life on this planet. But what I do know is that in the short time I’ve been alive, I’ve seen an acceleration of the progress of humanity, simply as a result of technology.

Every day, humanity seems to be traveling faster and faster, learning more and more. What it will mean for the future of the world, I can’t say. But I can say personally, it’s given me access to information and knowledge far ahead of my years. And as the internet matures, it’s worth as a tool for increasing the rate at which I can find information grows. As 1 billion, then 2 billion, and eventually 6 billion people in the world all start to have access to this knowledge, the availability of information will not grow two-fold or six-fold, it will grow exponentially. The implications of that are profound, and knowing that it’s likely to occur in my lifetime is an exciting realization.


The Unrepentant Individual linked with Carnival of Liberty XXXVI
Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 9:58 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: Beer, Blogging, Internet, Libertarianism, Ponderings, Technology

1 Comment

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