Some of us remember the early days of the Web when it was an exciting frontier full of mystery, freedom, and potential. Adventurous souls like your kindly blogger would roam the digital landscape armed with the most rudimentary browser and a deep curiosity for what lay beyond the beeps and whistles of the telephone modem.
While academia and government agencies were in the process of establishing their presence on the Web, most of it lay vacant. The Web was a blank canvas as far as the eye could see, waiting for the inevitable gold rush that would bring new settlers into its space.
The Web boomed as its digital population took root and grew.
With the creation of GeoCities, Tripod, XOOM, Angelfire, and other similar services, personal web page publishing claimed a huge portion of the Web. This was probably the most interesting era because the Web filled with experiments in personal, digital expression and it was a beautiful thing to see people discover the Web, discover the technology and explore themselves at the same time. Yes, these pages (for the most part) looked horrific, but they simply oozed with originality, feeling, and personality.
Now the Web is a lot like watching TV.
One reason I get this feeling is because of contemporary website design. I’m really glad site design has reached the point where it’s established reasonable sensibilities in terms of color, layout, typography, etc, but it seems a lot of attention is paid to the packaging while you could care less about the content. Even the nicest looking design will feel bland if nobody reads or takes any interest in what’s written in those neutral-colored boxes with the rounded corners/drop shadows.
Another reason the Web is turning into TV is due to this shift in personalization. Some services like Google and Facebook are becoming very good at learning your online habits and your preferences. So good that they know for a fact that you like [whatever] even if you didn’t think you did. To improve your experience using their services they will push content to you that you might like.
This all sounds well and good but this actually narrows your field of view as to what’s out there on the Web. Where is the discovery? Where is the mystery of the beyond? Heck, where is all the different stuff you actually might enjoy learning about if YouTube didn’t deluge you with videos of flash-in-the-pan K-POP sensations?
This is TV. Ok, so this isn’t mainstream-lowest-common-denominator-TV but it’s narrow-view-of-the-world-TV-thanks-to-limited-and-specialized-channels. At least with a web browser you can actually take it upon yourself and go out there and learn new things whereas with TV you’re stuck with whatever crappy channels your provider is overcharging you for.
When did it all get so commercialized? Where did all these ads come from? Where did all the homegrown personal web pages go [that don’t come from mills like Facebook, MySpace, etc]? WHAT HAPPENED?
BLARGH! I forgot what my point was. I’m too upset.
One morning in the midst of a paintball match, I got shot in the back of the head. That afternoon, in the restroom of a fast food restaurant, I was rinsing my hair out in one of the sinks. As I watched the bright pink water swirl down the drain, I reflected on the shot that left me with a painful soreness.
Nursing the stinging bruise through my hair I looked at myself in the mirror. The make-shift camouflage I had on was now covered with patches of dried mud and splotches of colorful paint, my hands were scratched up where thorny vegetation managed to get through the gloves, my back ached from being hunched over in an effort to keep my head down constantly, my boots were slightly waterlogged… After several moments I heard the voice of my conscience rise up from the depths of my mind to ask me…
Frankly, I didn’t know what the answer was until I made it back to my table. The sound of my friends bonding in raucous camaraderie immediately caught my ears and it all became clear to me.
Bet you thought you would never hear from me again, eh? You probably had the crazy notion that I fell off the face of the earth and gone the way of so many other half-hearted bloggers, didn’t you?
You should know that I’d never do that. I’d never abandon my [one or two] adoring fans for the promise of a real life beyond this keyboard! After all, how long have we known each other, now? One? Two weeks? The way I see it we’re in this together.
So stay tuned for more ramblings and other irrelevant musings by your kind blogger.