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The Small Internet

If you want to say something to 1,000 people,

Twitter is right over there,

next to Facebook and Instagram.

Good luck.

Have fun.

If you want to talk to me, though,

then sit next to me.

I want to hear what you have to say.

You'll have to do some listening too, of course,

but that's all part of the fun.

On the Large Internet,

communication is ubiquitous,

but conversation is a radical act.

On the Large Internet,

communication is cheaper than water, than air.

"Too cheap to meter."

But conversation,

full, deep conversation,

with kindness, consideration, mutual respect:

where exactly is that on the Large Internet?

Maybe I just haven't found the right forum yet.

In practical terms,

when it comes to winning the lottery,

there's no significant difference between buying a lottery ticket

and not buying one.

What are the odds

you will have a real conversation

or make a real connection

on the Large Internet?

You can comb through the Large Internet

and take that chance if you like,

but if it was me,

I'd just as soon

buy that lottery ticket.

If you want deep connection,

true community,

the Large Internet will disappoint you over and over again.

I think we can do better.

Right here, right now,

with me writing these words

and you reading them,

you and I are creating

the Small Internet.

The Small Internet happens

when a few people

use simple protocols

to talk with each other

and nobody else.

Nothing special.

No tricks.

Just you and me,

reading, writing,

having a conversation.

What the Small Internet offers

easily, naturally, simply,

the Large Internet can't provide at all,

any more than a bulldozer can feed a baby.

Here's the problem, though:

the Large Internet, someone made it for us.

The Small Internet, we have to create ourselves.

There aren't any spectators

on the Small Internet,

only participants.

Me, I think that's a good thing.

It means you and I have work to do,

and our work matters to our colleagues,

our neighbors, our companions,

our friends


So let's get started

while we are still young and eager.

That's what I think.

How about you?