Jargon Watch: Hyperconnectivity

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Mark Pesce, one of the pioneers of the modern web; who was the prime mover behind a now-forgotten technology called VRML. In the mid-1990s virtual reality was all the rage and the future was going to be all about tactile gloves, video visor helmets and surround sound; so a three-dimensional worldwide web made sense and ‘surfing’ the web was going to be more than just a metaphor. VRML was going to be the language that it was built in and the whole lot would run on Silicon Graphics servers.

Virtual reality fell on its ass as it gave people motion sickness, but the rise of augmented reality, the Nintendo Wii controller and three dimensional displays from the iTunes jukebox to Microsoft Surface shows that Pesce may have just been too early. I recently got reacquainted with Pesce’s work when I found his latest online incarnation and read about his vision of the changing nature of the web on his blog The Human Network. Hyperconnectivity is a phrase that Pesce uses to describe the effects brought about by the following factors:

  • Content and experiences can be shared easily throughout the world
  • Humans are social creatures
  • The web and its audiences have become a worldwide eyes and ears, wherever there is connectivity there is nothing that can remain hidden. This means that many of the traditional control mechanisms no longer work: just ask the music industry

Pesce is interested in what this means for society and social interaction, we are the precipice of a social experiment from which there is no way back. So in some respects, hyperconnectivity has yet to be fully defined.