A Love Letter To The Early Web
With all the fuss about the Instagram terms of service, social media services closing off their platforms and all sorts of complex terms of service and user agreements, I pine for the early web. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of problems with it, but at the core it was beautiful (even some of the classic Geocities GIFs). For the first time in human history, you could easily share your thoughts, opinions and ideas in a way that anyone could access. There was no need to go through a publisher to get your message out.
The first time I published something on my small amount of web space that my university gave me I felt a jolt of excitement. I was in awe how something that I wrote could be read by anyone, anywhere. All they needed was a computer and a connection (most likely dial-up) and they could read what I wrote. Each time I published something it felt like magic.
Today, this magic is taken for granted. I can fire off tweets, update statuses, post a blog and comment on websites, putting my voice out there for all to read. The web really has grown up, but there is certain nostalgia with the early web. Hearing the “You Got Mail” sound (remember when people actually used email to send letters?), seeing search engines organize the massive amounts of information and having a personal web presence on Geocities that was unique to the user instead of being confined to the standard Facebook layout.
The early web was the beginning of unleashing human creativity. It provided a new set of tools for people to collaborate and create, resulting in people utilizing their spare time to make new things, something explored in Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus. Two things were required for this explosion of creativity: spare time and tools to create and collaborate. We have had spare time since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, whereas the tools to create and collaborate were made readily available with the web, resulting in many of the tools we know today.Continued on the next page