On Thursday I visited Gardner Campbell’s class. For me it was a chance to try to convey, to students who are mainly not on the engineering track, some key intuitions that arise from the architecture of the web. At one point I invited them to summon a grain of sand into existence, name it uniquely, cast it onto the web, and wait for search engines to notice.

At least one student, lisskane, tried the experiment. She wrote:

I’m going to completely admit that before this class I knew absolutely nothing about the WWW and Internet infrastructure. And honestly, it still confuses me. Who knew that the web and the Internet were different things? I thought they were simply interchangeable words, synonyms that could be looked up on Microsoft word. But they are different and when to my surprise when I click on Internet, there are no synonyms for it. It is it’s own thing. Which brings us to what Jon Udell was saying in class. When it comes to the World Wide Web, our imagination is our only limit. We decide what we want to make. Who we want to share it with and what we want it to mean. Take words for example.  Dackolupatoni: when you Google that, nothing comes up. But here is our experiment. Let’s search it in a few hours and probably this will come up. Which is recursion. And then that person can be linked to this. And it goes on and on. Now isn’t that cool?

It sure is! Unfortunately for lisskane her grain of sand, dackolupatoni, has not yet fully awakened. Bing finds a tweet I posted yesterday. But neither Bing nor Google, as of Saturday morning, has yet made lisskane’s experiment in discovery and recursion come alive. This pains me. I want her to see it happen. But I realize I forgot to mention something. This power to cast grains of sand into the virtual world and than awaken them is a power that grows as you exercise it. Mine, after many years, is strong. Hers is nascent. But thanks to another wonderful property of the web I can share some of my power with her. So, Google and Bing, please awaken lisskane’s grain of sand.