If you’re at all a fan of being able to read good old words on the web that aren’t encapsulated in a piece of Minion clipart or in the subtitles of a muted video on Facebook then Hossein Derakhshan’s article about how the web has changed while he was imprisoned for six years is crucial reading. It’s something most of us who were cognizant of the popularity of blogging in terms of influence and relevance only a few years ago should try to see, albeit sympathetically, through the eyes of someone who was jailed because of what he wrote about on his own blog as well as his role in connecting other Iranian bloggers and championing blogging in that country.
I’ve been more demotivated about writing anything for web consumption than saddened by the changes in how and what folks consume via the interwebs, but I can see how stunning that might be after six years. The difference is frighteningly stark. Facebook wasn’t the first walled garden on the open web (and here I’m talking about post-AOL sort of web where you were outside a near-literal walled garden; keyword:fish-in-a-barrel) and at some point in the future it will likely cede at least part of that monopoly to a competing service that probably doesn’t exist yet. That said, the mall approach (remember how much fun we all made of the services that constructed little town interfaces to represent ‘net resources?) or the app store approach to the web seems to keep many folks happy or at least distracted. Derakhshan has an excellent central point; people generally just like things and then move on to the next thing without further participating in the discussion. I’ve noticed on my own FB threads that people will not read any of the text responses but will often like some funny graphic or answer it with another premade graphic.
I miss the old web a ton which is one of the reasons that I rolled this site out. I didn’t want to try to resurrect the decaying corpse of Team Murder and wanted to start off on something new that didn’t even benefit from whatever residual audience TM had left over. I still see feed readers hitting that site regularly despite that being a somewhat quaint idea these days. I have the option to ship posts off to FB, but I don’t. I tend to be wordy and people that prefer FB as their vehicle of online communication (scare italics added for my own amusement) don’t seem to have much patience for words. Lately, and this may be a more certain sign of my age than any of the other breadcrumbs in the trail, it seems like Facebook serves mainly as a way to find out which among my friends has recently died. I think I like words better. This site, this experiment of sorts is fun to write but it is read almost exclusively by robots.