This is a Blog Post
work in progress
The Web's original purpose was to simplify information access and exchange [quote/link timbl proposal]. A subsystem started emerging in the early 2000s that demonstrated one way in which this potential could be fulfilled : the blogosphere. This didn't require any novel technologies, all components were simple evolutions of those needed for the first generation Web Home Page.
Underneath, there's a relatively simple protocol and document format (HTTP and HTML), which supports the Web's defining feature, the affordance of the hyperlink. The development of content management systems greatly simplified the process of content creation. This enabled a significant democratization of the facilities, giving access to people without the specific technical skills. It's also worth noting this reduced the friction of authoring for those in the development community. Less time fiddling with markup, more time expressing
Previously, content/site structure was typically hierarchical and static. At a first approximation, this corresponded to the textbook in traditional media. But this was a poor match for the requirements of news sites. [Slashdot]
reverse-chrono maps intuitively to diary/journal, elements of the episodic style of TV series etc.
- simple authoring : whether quick thoughts or academia-level essays
- a compelling style/format : immediate, but with narratives at every time scale, no predetermined subject matter, scope from tight focus to big picture
- links : supporting references/provenance, discovery of related material
- comments : generally open, short-form feedback, discovery links
It's no coincidence that many of the early adopters of the blog format were exactly the people pioneering tech developments, eg. Shelley, Winer, Tim Bray. As an aside, this also demonstrated how robust the blogosphere was as an open forum. I didn't choose those three blogger-developers at random. Each had great ideas to offer this realm. But each was approaching from a different direction, often with strongly-held views on particular issues. Such opinions were sometimes diametrically opposed to each other. Boiling-blood slips from civil discourse weren't exactly rare, but a first real take-away is that there was useful exchange of information. A second, probably more important, these arguments weren't taking place in a void. Anyone could chip in and offer their views, either in short-form as a comment on the relevant blog post, or long-form on their own blog.
This elegantly showed how the philosophy of design for serendipity [timbl], while nebulous at design time can lead to concrete utility later.
What went Wrong?
rise of big social media
voluntary tolerance of theft of marketable content backdoor theft of identity
unwebby local apps attached to silos
low-level tech factors
eg. 'danny', google & no-follow;
but blogosphere not dead!
A little gem of history is that on top of everything else, Tim Berners-Lee was prescient in creating the first proto-blog back in the early 1990s : his real-ish time documentation of the development of the Web.
- create content in your own space on the Web first, only then post links & excerpts in other spaces
- favour open social media systems,
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
- Alexander Pope, 1709
The first line is commonly used with 'knowledge' in place of 'learning', but with the same intent.
It sometimes works.
Moderate ignorance is a powerful thing.