It is when people stop thinking of something as a piece of technology that the thing starts to have its biggest impact. Wheels, wells, books, spectacles were all once wonders of the world; now they are everywhere, and we can't live without them. The internet hasn't quite got to that point, but it is getting there. People around my age - I was born in 1962 - can remember with great clarity the first time they saw a colour television. (In my case it was in 1968, in, of all places, Harrods. Another period detail is that my parents had taken me there to buy a dog.) That means we had grown up with enough black-and-white TV for it to seem the norm, so that the new thing was an extraordinary marvel. People about 10 years younger than me don't know what I'm talking about. For them, TV was never black-and-white and colour pictures were never a miracle. Similarly, younger internet users who have never heard the whistling, chattering, hopeful-anxious sound of a dial-up modem connecting to the internet. For them, increasingly, the net is something that is always available, has always been there, and can be accessed anywhere and at any time. Wireless modems, and the omnipresent internet they permit - the internet that is everywhere, like the air - still seem miraculous to me, but to 10-year-olds they seem utterly prosaic.

People are growing up with the internet, and the internet is growing up with them. It is evolving. Email was once a marvel of practicality and utility; people under the age of 25, though, never knew a time before it was broken by spam, and prefer to use instant messaging or texting. In the corporate world, as a publisher once told me, "email's main function is as an instrument of torture". In civilian life, I increasingly notice that people don't actually read their email; they sort of skim it, and get the gist, and any fine distinctions or crucial information are usually best communicated in some other way. So the heroic period of email is already in the past. No one could have predicted that, just as no one could have predicted the extraordinary, dizzying multiplying of the number of blogs being written. (I don't say read.) That number has been doubling every six months for the past three years: there are now, as of July 31, more than 50m blogs on the internet; 175,000 new blogs are created every day - that's two every second. The dominant languages (they jockey from month to month) are Chinese, Japanese and English. There are 1.6m blog posts a day.

What does that mean? What should we think about it? It's hard to know where to start, other than to say that those figures are from Technorati, a blog-tracking and searching website that is one of the indispensable sites for anyone with an interest in the net. What is a typical blog? Who knows? Somebody wittering about what they had for breakfast, or complaining about their boyfriend, or posting terrible photographs of their dog, or how they played Pong last night and it was more fun than some of their new games, or how lousy it is being a policeman, or the sex life of an American expatriate in China. (That blog, Chinabounder, has caused a national scandal in China, and spawned a hunt for the blogger that is itself the subject of a blog, Who Is Chinabounder?) It's almost impossible to think of a subject that isn't being blogged about.

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