Much has been said about how democratic a medium the Internet is and how it has revolutionalised the world.
Here is something I wanted to add.
The Internet - The chronicle and steering wheel of our times
Ancient archeological sites throw up many interesting artifacts, many of them being tidbits of daily life such as pots, pans, little statues, instruments and others.There are epics devoted to the exploits of kings and historical documents penned by their own court historians chronicling their lives and times. Other great men and women such as saints, philosophers, scientists are immortalised by their own work as well as parchments praising them, written by others. But there is scarcely anything known about the common man and woman of those ancient times. What were their aspirations, daily problems, their thoughts on the affairs of state, on God and religion, on life itself?
Imagine, on the other hand, if our civilisation came to an end one day. Maybe our hard disks and servers would survive .. and then would unfold the saga of thousands, perhaps even millions of people whose thoughts and opinions have been preserved for posterity. Blogs are not just a poor cousin of mainstream media, they are also the voice of their times. Mainstream media has to toe a certain line, keeping in mind its social responsibilities and taking care not to offend anyone. But, with the Internet, I have found people openly cursing fellow readers on a message board, ranting against people, groups and ideologies, which, in the real world, is considered worse than being politically incorrect. In a way, the net is a more honest and transparent medium when it comes to opinions. Sociologists and historians in the future can get a feel of the real opinions of many commoners, which have decided the course of a nation, the fate of a religion and society itself. They would be able to really deconstruct the frustrations and beliefs, the angst and aspirations of the unknown faces of history.
Added to that, consider the variety of topics being discussed on the net. I mean, could the court historians of yore possibly have the time and the energy to talk about everything in detail, right from food to fashion, arts, political strategy and daily affairs of the state? Along with newspapers which obviously have been doing a very good job of highlighting different aspects of our society besides keeping track of major local and international events, we have blogs and comments, expressing themselves on everything from the coolest cafe in town to the crooks in politics. Wanna know what outlandish flavours of ice-cream existed in the early 21st century? Chances are, you'll find it on a blog!
The Internet already has its budding stars. Until cinema was born, how many people knew of actors? Today, actors live in a rarefied world, adored and envied by millions. The print medium has its stars, too. Popular columnists, cartoonists and writers have carved a niche for themselves though a Thomas Friedman or Shekhar Gupta may not evoke the frenzy that a Shah Rukh Khan or Tom Cruise do. The internet is fast becoming a medium in its own right. Now, common people can become little stars of the blogsosphere or have their names on websites. You don't have to wait for a publisher to appreciate your writing. Have access to a computer and the Internet? You can fire away on those keys! Some bloggers and writers have their own loyal fan following as well as the usual critics. Of course, internet writing may not be in the same league as published print today but it may fast catch up.
The Internet is a truly a democratic medium, giving a voice to the otherwise not-so-influential. A talented individual need not depend on someone else's approval to show his worth to others. Very soon, we might have amateur painters, chefs, music composers, even documentary and film makers, relying on the net to publish their material. This may get them notice from the honchos at television networks, the media and producers. So, both mainstream and internet media could feed off each other. That will probably turn the course of our society.