The evolution of the internet.

  • In olden times, the Internet was an even more disorganized thing than it is now. Sites were small, and covered usually very niche content. There were veey few professionally managed websites, and the ones that existed were usually just digital brochures for some brick and mortar business. Commerce on the Internet existed, but it wasn't as reliable or as easy as it is today. There was less accountability, and information moved more slowly.

    Things have changed a lot. Wikipedia has replaced just about every website you would ever go to to find general information. For more niche info, there's almost guaranteed to be a wiki for that. Big news sites exist catering to most topics, and for many topica they're actually considered a primary news source. They recieve press releases, and have reporters.

    We've gained a lot. I would never want to go back to what was. But there are things we've lost as well. And I think it's valuable to consider those things.

    The big one for me is the way we socialize on the Internet. With a bbs, a mailgroup, or a forum, you've got a community that exists within human understanding. A village, as it were. Even the largest communities back in the day operated at a concievable scale. And while it didn't always work for the best, these communities were governed by people who were part of them. The ultimate authority on a zelda forum was a zelda fan themselves. And you could talk to them if you needed.

    Today, we've given that up. Modern social networks are better in a lot of ways. They're more stable, more consistent, and have made the internet accessible to a broad array of non-tech-savvy folks who were stuck on the outside for many years. But Mark Zuckerberg doesn't give a shit about your zelda facebook group. You'll never be able to talk to him, and you'll never matter within the grand scheme of facebook.

    Community admins could be assholes. They could even be bad people, sometimes. But they were still an accessible person who you probably had at least one thing in common with. And you were a member of a community, not a product enticed to participate in your own commodification by a community building device.

    What are your thoughts on the evolution of social networking? What are other things we've lost as the Internet has progressed?