Everything written is, at best, a metaphor for a hidden reality. We rely on anaolgies and generalizations to merely approach a "full understanding." So my analogy de jour is that the internet is an echo of how the human brain really works. Hyperlinks are the same as mental links. The hard drives that store these words are the longest of long-term memories. The fiberoptics are the nerves.
Think about an elephant right now. You can probably rattle off dozens of words and ideas--gray, trunk, republican, largest land mammal, pachyderm, never forgets. Your mental hard drives just scanned for links to the elephant concept, translated those to words and delivered them via nerve fibers to your communication channels. The same thing happens when you type "elephant" into Google and scan the top ten results, or better still, find the wikipedia entry. The internet is the global nervous system of the industrialized world, replete with memories, senses, and rapid recall.
[Berners-Lee] said the new Web institute will try to foresee the next wave of Internet problems before they become crises.
The next step is consciousness. "Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug." No need for an institute, the Terminator already answered that question.