The next step, of course, in the evolution of the Net is the furthering of instantaneous access to desired information. You can already see this in the proliferation of links within articles that, when clicked, define the highlighted term.
But that's still only one Web site's interpretation of the most important aspects of that word or phrase. The key will be to make all links for a given term go to the consensus for that subject. Search engines are doing this now.
What do the vast majority of sites and all of the references they contain say is the most important thing to know about... bacon? Or algebra? Or child rearing?
You see where I'm headed. For better or worse, the Net is the tool that will enable society to agree on many, many subjects that are now loosely defined and even contentious. At the very least, we will all be reading information from similar and related sources.
All this takes is the right combination of search engine, database and software to nail down what the most common statement is about a subject at any point. Our searches are becoming refined at a rapid clip. Just look at Google and see how accurate a query covering millions of documents can be.
As long as those results come from us, the masses, then it has the possibility to become magnificient. If a select few gain influence over these messages, however, I shudder to think of the consequences.
The world of consolidation breeds its own dictatorial overmind? Somebody stop me...