Can you keep a secret?

“We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.”

The Internet, like so many other of man’s great creations, can be used for good or it can be used for evil. You can use a knife to help prepare a delicious meal or you can use a knife to hurt someone. You can use a flashlight to help guide someone home on a dark night or you can use the same flashlight to annoy your friend who is trying to get some sleep. The Internet is exactly the same way.

The early days of the “world wide web” necessarily had their limitations. It was cost-prohibitive for most people to design, build and host their own websites, so websites were only run by an elite few. Of course, that has changed dramatically and now everyone has a voice online. And that is very much a double-edged sword.

Some very intelligent people now have a platform where they can share their insights with the rest of the world and, without the Internet, they may not have been able to do that. Without the Internet, I’m not sure I would have been able to get started as a freelance writer. At the same time, the Internet also serves as a platform for people to spread misguided information, outright lies and useless distractions.

The fact of the matter is that we are just getting an increasingly small signal-to-noise ratio online, because more and more people are posting more and more content on the Internet. Genius is rare and it oftentimes speaks with a much quieter voice. Unfortunately, it’s the people who bellow the loudness that tend to get the attention.

What’s fascinating is that the above quote from Robert Wilensky came from a speech he made at a conference way back in 1996. The Internet has evolved greatly in the 17 years since, but you might argue that he’s still right… at least for now. Maybe we just need more time. Or more monkeys.