Blogger nostalgia

Some people miss the old days of blogging. I don’t.

But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication — nodes and networks and links — toward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.

The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

The Web We Have to Save by Hossein Derakhshan (3619 words).

I remember the web that Hossein Derakhshan misses. I was blogging back then. It’s all fine and dandy to romanticise the past but it was even harder for a normal person to get heard back then than it is today.

(Now, I also had a website back before blogging became a phenomenon. It was a lot easier pre-blogging to connect with a substantial portion of the web. Mostly because so few people were on it.)

The way things worked in those prehistoric days, unless you were among the first to break out or writing from an incredibly interesting place, your odds of being read were slim to none. It was a community that very quickly became dominated by a power law distribution.

Of course, the people who were big during blogging’s heyday miss those glory days. Of course. It’d be unnatural if they didn’t. But it’s equally unnatural for the rest of us to reminisce about them because it was a time when tiny blogging elite had a lock on the entire phenomenon.

Social networks make it easier for the small fry to randomly break out—a single post can go viral. It may or may not have a lasting effect. Sometimes it does. Almost all of my long-term traffic comes from the remainders of those occasional viral boosts. Even when the traffic comes from a major site or blogger, they in turn found it via social media. There’s a lot wrong with social media and social media traffic, but one of its virtues is that it’s a lot more dynamic. We need that.

Blogging as the foundation principle of the personal web was never going to scale up.