Our cover story is about the Internet.
"Again," I can hear readers groan. "Not the Web." Sorry, there really is no escaping coverage of the Net phenomenon. Less than 10 years ago, there were 50 Web sites. Today there are more than 50 million.
Nor is there any escaping the new industrial transformation taking place and the potentially positive impact digital commerce is having on the environment.
One commentator has suggested that the energy poured into the Web is the single greatest human endeavor since the building of the gothic cathedrals in the Middle Ages. I would second that. The implications of such rapid growth and widespread use of a medium that radically alters our relationship to time and space remains unfathomable.
Laurent Belsie explores a potentially momentous development caused by use of the Internet - a reduction in physical demands on the environment (right). He writes, "The digital revolution may tread so gently on the globe's ecosystems that it will help the environment. If that's true, then economists and environmentalists will have to throw out their old assumptions about growth and energy use."
None of us reading the Monitor can imagine working or living without a telephone. I would hazard that a majority of our readers no longer can imagine working or living without the Internet. And it happened so suddenly.
This is the great indigestible fact of the Net - the pace of its colonizing so many aspects of our lives. Its image changes faster than bamboo grows. It's no longer the ultimate tree house for men who want to remain 13-year-old boys. It's a new central nervous system spreading itself in the biosphere.
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