The human being is a social animal. For our wellbeing, we need other people. Otherwise, we become lonely and die. As human beings, we are also rational animals. We are aware of our own identity and of our own ego. Being social and developing an ego can conflict. Do your own needs take precedence, or do you serve your fellow man first? And, does your own group then go first? If they do something you do not agree with, do you leave the group, or do you go with the flow? Politically, this is an interesting question, too. What do you stand for? These are questions we (should) ask ourselves every day, and they always lead to alternative issues.
In the previous century, you were a part of a group and a part of its sectional interests. It was not always pleasant, or a place in which you could get something off your mind, but there was a basic principle, a framework, and therefore, there was a reference. The paradigm was clear. We knew many groups. We called this “pillarization” (or compartmentalization along socio-political lines). You belonged to a certain religion or philosophy of life. The social network this was a part of determined where you lived, where you went to school, where you played sports, where you went to church, which broadcasting corporation you watched, which newspapers you read, which political parties you were expected to adhere to, where you went to work, do your shopping, and even whom you married. In the 1960s, we started to remove these traditional religious and socio-political barriers. Our increasing prosperity gave us the emancipated consumer on one hand, and the start of the search for a new identity on the other. “Who am I?” and “What do I want from this life?” were the questions that presented themselves more strongly than before. Recently, these questions have been supplemented with concerns for the future of our society, because it has become quite clear that politicians, the government, and the business community, as systems, are not the omniscient and reliable partners we had hoped for, even though we are connected to these systems in one way or another.
This process of awakening has been going on for some time, but gained momentum due to of the Internet. The Internet democratizes. To me, “WWW” does not only stand for World Wide Web, but it is also an acronym for Where to buy, What & When. The consumer is emancipating him- or herself and is taken for less of a ride by sellers. More and more people are reading fewer newspapers and watching less television; they surf the Internet a lot more (especially on tablets). So, in order to stay in touch with the consumer, organizations (and also private citizens) started to post information on the Web, statically, like a digital sign. These signs grew at such a rate that we needed search engines to help find what we were looking for. Is there anyone who has never heard of Google? The posting and retrieving of information is defined as Web 1.0, the information-based Web.