I admit, I haven’t been working on the web as long as this blog’s main author has — though somewhere in the back of my mind exists the memory of this antiquity.
So I can relate to digital master Anil Dash as he remembers The Web We Lost:
The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we’ve lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.
Dash goes on to reminisce about Flickr’s heyday, when links “weren’t about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing,” and when people were more wary of handing their personal information over to companies. That’s changed with the rise of social media giants, Dash says:
… They haven’t shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they’ve now narrowed the possibilities of the web for an entire generation of users who don’t realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.
It’s that last part that resonates with me the most; I straddle that generation Dash mentions. And yes, at their best, those web tools and websites encouraged innovation and creativity. But they also took a lot of work and excluded a lot of people. Even Myspace required/encouraged rudimentary HTML skills; it’s no surprise that Facebook is much more popular than Myspace ever was.
And for most people, I think that’s fine. Not everyone needs to know how to build a website. Us web-heads should remember that the rest of the world has the ability to express itself in other ways. Including, you know, off-line.
I just hope it continues to do that.
– Nate Minor