Call Me Old Fashioned

20th of May 2006 by admin

Now some of us are old enough to remember the days before the World Wide Web. Some of us can remember when being a hacker was really cool and Dutch techno-anarchistens held geeky log-ins in muddy campsites with an InterTent network and a mighty 128Kbps link to the outside world.

We can remember how the web as a technology seemed so lame — being able to communicate with other people rather than browse documents was so much more fun.

We had bulletin board systems and multiple user dimensions to say nothing of usenet news and internet relay chat. But that was in 1993 before the clean cut MBA value seekers intruded on this introspective world. The money came and blew the lid off a male, twenty-something idealistic world (that smelled more than a little of computer labs and cheesy socks). Suddenly the web was the thing, because it could be made to look like TV and you could sell stuff through it and everyone got very sweaty palms.

Only the Web sites hit terminal complexity in their design and their ambition and too many people realised that they were still talking to themselves rather than to the customers they believed were out there in their millions. And a lot of people lost a lot of money, but those with cheesy feet came out of their labs and got mortages and joined the real world on the back of it.

Now suddenly, once again, everyone is saying its all about communication again, and not publishing. It’s about individual enfranchisement and it’s being branded Web2.0.

Which is fine, but we’ve been here before. We can give it new labels, like blogging and podcasting, and the technology might be easier and faster to use for many more people, but sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Internet was always about communication and there are still a whole load of things we got excited about a dozen years ago which have never yet come to pass, like the idea that enfranchisement of communication might really reach out to corners of society that are mute.

And the hungry investment money is flexing itself again, chasing down the quarry of the latest re-branded enthusiasm.

Only this time I hope I get a piece of the action.

One Response to “Call Me Old Fashioned”

I think most people over 25 could say ‘if I knew then what I know now….’