Give me that old time internets.

April 1, 2011

So I reckon it’s about time to come clean about the blog. By which I mean hook it up to all those Web 2.0 machines and invite actual genuine people some of whom I have actually met in real life to read it. The main reason I’ve left it a bit of time before doing so is because I was never sure I’d actually get round to updating this, and there’s nothing worse than inviting people to read a blog that’s essentially empty and stagnant. But here we are, six posts in and I’m still just about finding something to write about each week. Part of the reason a) I was thinking about starting up this blog and b) I’m loath to hook it up to the 2.0 is that I’m always a bit wary of the ‘future of the internet’, or possibly just nostalgic for the past.

Don’t get me wrong. I love faceboke. Especially speaking as someone who currently spends a large amount of the working day sat in front of a screen, it’s an incredible way to share jokes and links with friends, stalk people, and generally make the working day pass a bit quicker. Bored? Never! Here’s a picture of David Miliband covered in confetti! Distracted! No! Here’s a youtube clip of a tapir charging into water at 25 miles an hour. I guess it depends what you’re into. I could spend all day looking at pictures of David Miliband looking confused and videos of tapirs. Each to their own, I suppose.

And it’s not because Faceboke is run by the CIA and Tony Blair and it’s actually collecting a mass database of people’s favourite animals and calculating how much GDP is lost each year by online faffing. It’s not even the creepy targetted ads or the fact that my holiday snaps are now owned by some american company who are going to use them to sell people holidays on the Sussex downs. It’s the fact that the internet used be a lot more renegade.

These days, you’ve got a cosy compartment that’s ‘you’. An ever changing picture of your face, connections to everyone that you’re ‘friends’ with, and a frustrating list of ‘interests’ that they keep moving about and turning into ‘pages’. When I was a teenager and finally got The Internet (a great day in every late 90’s teenager’s life, and way better than faxing things into teletext), I was making web pages on Geocities, and eventually various free web host companies. I haven’t actually learned very much more about coding HTML since then, but experts in the field tell me that not much has changed. But the best thing about this was that sites were a whole lot more anarchic.  Geocities was famous for blinking, scrolling text, horrendous animated GIFs, and other sorts of things that offend the eye of any aesthetically inclined webdesigner, but it was also full of all sorts of chaos and beauty.

You didn’t really have an ‘interests’ section to fill out (and no-one had a digital camera in those days so you probably didn’t have 1000+ pictures of yourself on your site either). It seems steeped in dusty history now, web-rings and guestbooks and discussion boards and mental american teenagers and bucketloads of teenage angst (hell, I was the right age for that as well) and hipsters websites where instead of text links they’d just have numbers and hey, all that sort of thing. And the pseudoyms. In some ways it seems totally insane that most people on faceboke use their ACTUAL REAL NAME. But I guess that’s the way it goes, and essentially Faceboke is Friends Reunited with more whistles and bells. And I guess some people want anyone who went to school with them to be able to find them on the internet.

I’m concerned I’m being a bit elitist here, and sure, it’s a great thing that anyone can ‘be’ on the internet without having to learn HTML. That’s fine. Even blogs massively democratised having an online presence – you can just feed in text to your own online webspace. But, y’know, I miss the anarchy. I miss the chaos. I even miss comic sans, yellow and black “under construction” signs, and all the scrolling text. But given that we live in a world where terms like “world wide web” already sound incredibly dated, I guess it’s still possible to be pretty old fashioned online…

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