The Web We Lost

Good blog: The Web We Lost.  It describes the evolution of the “cool web” (my quotes) into a less-inspiring commercial proposition.  Resonates.  Utterly predictable too.  Watch for lots of innovator’s dilemma beginning to occur in the social-industry; the quickened pace of these cycles is breathtaking and a little scary nowadays.

Although I’m a technologist and of the right age to gnash my teeth along with the article, I actually was not part of the web cool-cat club to the extant that the writer of the linked article and many respondents seem to have been.  During the “golden years” (my quote again) I was a busy-beaver, multi-interest tech geek, and certainly I was an early web consumer and user, but in hindsight — and compared to those of the linked article — my personal computing pursuits (outside of work that is) were more solitary, tending to the quasi-academic (or at least the deeply curious); my interests were of a traditional STEM bent, rather than a social bent.  Although I like to write and I am an avid consumer of the writings of the best and brightest (off and on-line), truth be told, my interests in the interweb are still less social than in the manner described in the article.  For instance, I can’t stand Facebook (although I have an account because friends and relatives do).  I think Twitter is lame and somewhat akin to CB Radio in value (and hopefully as a bubble of web cool-cat interest).

Any medium or application that appeals to the short-attention-span instincts of society rather than promoting intellectual and humorous pursuits that take longer form and provide real added-value focus and meaning, I personally bucket as some type of sinful, dissipating, bubble-gum (“sinful” here should not be taken as literally religious).  These short-form, short attention span content formats are akin to masturbation: they feel good in the moment and demand little in the way of commitment, but they are not really a substitute for long-term productive relationships.

I believe that we should all aspire to focus, to work deeply and, to the extent that we can muster, dedicate our precious time  to producing (and consuming) meaningful content that enriches ourselves and may enrich others in our immediate, extended, and anonymous networks in non-trivial ways.  In my mind this is what moves societies along a positive path.

Formats like blogging that encourage short or long essay writing and creative commitment I think are fantastic and are one of the best societal enablers that the internet-enabled technologies have yet delivered.   I also appreciate straight-ahead photo-sharing sites and other web services of the Flickr and YouTube variety (but these may not be the money-generators that investors seek — at least not without poisoning the well).  I’m a  fan of technical sharing sites like GitHub, $\TeX$ stackexchange, and the like; LibraryThing is part of that old-fangled and new-fangled goodness that I pray has legs.  I remember the “web ring” mechanisms that used to be common — certainly on tech geek sites — and wish that the great-but-mercurial god search had become a popular adjunct, not a replacement for enthusiasts directly linking to other enthusiasts (and thus providing their own societal value).

As a disclaimer and to reassure the random reader that I have a sense of  humor and humility still:  hey, get off my lawn!

-Todd