Today's world is one in which information is gaining the upper hand over raw materials, where software is more valuable than hardware, and where, according to Negroponte (1995), bits are more important than atoms. One might also say, borrowing from Descartes, that in today's information society the issue is often mind over matter. Today, more than ever, information exists in digital form. As traditional media make the migration to digital acquisition, processing, and distribution, they merge with the computer world. Digital information, code written as a series of binary digits, 1s or 0s, is essentially dichotomous. At any point in time, the signal is either on or off, 1 or 0, but never in between. So albeit in a very crude way, digital media exists in a dualistic state.
Another type of duality found in the Web is due to its unique form and communication
potential. Carey (1992), posited two models of communication: the "transmission"
and the "ritual" (p. 18). According to Carey, "If the archetypal
case of communication under a transmission view is the extension of messages
across geography for the purpose of control, the archetypal case under a ritual
view is the sacred ceremony that draws persons together in fellowship and commonality"
(p. 18). The nature of networked computer-mediated communication on the Web
captures the dualistic nature of Carey's models. The Web is a mass medium with
one-to-many potential while, at the same time, enabling many-to-many and one-to-one
interpersonal modes of communication. By its very nature, the Web is a dichotomy
of communication technologies. As expressed by Paul Saffo, a computer industry
consultant at the Institute for the Future, the Web is "television colliding
with the telephone party line."