What follows is a piece written by 2 postmodern french philosophers that I studied as part of my (unfinished) Masters degree in Philosophy. The passage is a VERY accurate description of the structure of the internet and specifically web 2.0. However (and here is the important part), it was written in 1983 - wayyy before the Net. People are quick to dismiss philsophers (especially postmodern ones) as totally out of touch with the world. Well this piece is pure genuis in its prediction of what is happening today in the world.
One becomes two: whenever we encounter this formula…what we have before us is the most classical and well reflected, oldest, and weariest kind of thought. Nature doesn't work that way: in nature, roots are taproots with a more multiple, lateral, and circular system of ramification, rather than a dichotomous one.
A system of this kind could be called a rhizome. A rhizome as subterranean stem is absolutely different from roots and radicals…any point on a rhizome can be connected to anything other and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order.
A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organisations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.
All of tree logic is a logic of tracing and reproduction. The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. The map is open and connectable on all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification…Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways…
The tree and root inspire a sad image of thought that is forever imitating the multiple on the basis of a centered or segmented higher unity…To these centred systems, the authors contrast acentered systems…in which communication runs from any neighbour to any other, the stems or channels do not preexist, and all individuals are interchangeable…without a central agency.
Let us summarize the principle characteristics of a rhizome: unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point…It has neither beginning nor end. In contrast to centered systems with hierarchical modes of communication and reestablished paths, the rhizome is an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General…
The tree imposes the verb "to be," but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, "and…and…and…" This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb "to be". Where are you going? Where are you coming from? What are you heading for? These are totally useless questions - all imply a false conception of voyage and movement….[We should] have another way of traveling and moving:…coming and going rather than starting and finishing.
from A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Deleuze and Guattari
PS - One of the Frenchmen finished himself off by jumping of a building - BP perhaps?