In the 1990s, I ran a website about my Klik ’n Play projects, including a somewhat popular piece of free software that allowed other people to build real-time strategy games. I do not remember the URL, but it sounded like users.mywebhosting.com/~jvis/klikplay/index.htm.
At the time, there was no SEO, no social media, no influencer marketing. I couldn’t register a fancy URL. The only way to get people to visit my site was through the laborious process of link building. A link between two websites – which was almost always reciprocal – signified trust and relevance. It meant a real relationship, often forged through long conversations on IRC. My website was reasonably successful for the time, into the 100s of visits per month, but it is safe to say I knew most of the visitors by their nickname. The web was a small, private, and familiar place
Then, the internet changed. Blogs, social media, algorithms, and a host of other innovations made the web humongous, devoid of privacy, and highly unpredictable. This is the internet that most museums have embraced; a web where you can talk to everyone, advertise everything, and fame is always only one viral video away.
Now, however, it seems to be changing again. Mark Zuckerberg has placed his bets of direct messaging. Twitter’s latest new redesign also emphasizes conversations, albeit in the public space (“to facilitate public conversation”). If your workplace has embraced Slack, your family WhatsApp, your children Instagram, or your neighborhood NextDoor, you have seen that the web is changing. We’re moving from massive public debates to direct relationships between limited communities. The experience of privacy and control increases. It makes the internet feel like the web of yesteryear when you knew everyone by their nickname.Continue Reading Read More »