The World Wide Web (WWW) has grown explosively in five years from a novel idea of Tim Berners-Lee to the nervous system of a new planetary society. One wonders what to make of this, and perhaps the various opinions correspond to the historical paradigms. Here are four of them.
A. In the paradigm of ancient Greece and the Middle Ages, humans stood helplessly in an autonomous harmony of forces, celestial and terrestrial. Occasional divine disharmonies wrought havoc. In this view, the WWW is seen as a new and suspicious god. Whether like Zeus or Eros, only time may tell.
B. In the paradigm of the Renaissance, humans were seen as potential partners of the gods, able to harness divine forces to human will by magical means. From this platform, the WWW is a new partner for advancing our most ambitious or foolish whims. By black magic as it were, or white, only time will tell.
C. In the religion of the Enlightenment and its derivative, modern science, humans create and control all. In this view, the WWW is just another machine, like the world economy. It exists because we thought it might be useful to business.
D. In the postmodern worldview, of the General Evolution Research Group, or of Rupert Sheldrake for example, the terrestrial, human, and celestial spheres are all in a process of concomitant coevolution, as in the embryogenesis of a new planetary society. In this habit of thought, the WWW may be regarded as the neurogenesis of the global brain, intrinsic to, and essential for, the overall coevolution of the all and everything.
This paper belongs to this last paradigm. It is our view that the WWW is essential to our further evolution, but that in order for this further evolution to have a favorable outcome, we must participate in the emerging consciousness of the global brain, and thus, we must visualize, observe, and interact with, the explosion of the WWW. It is because of this belief that we have developed the tools of webometry which are described in this paper: the tools of Web Watch. Morphogenesis requires self-reference.
The works of Eric Chaisson, Peter Russell, Ervin Laszlo , and Rupert Sheldrake (listed in the bibliography) may be consulted for more details on this new paradigm.