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The Internet

Web No Longer Eclectic? 163

khog writes: "The Sunday New York Times had a front-page article entitled, "Exploration of World Wide Web Tilts From Eclectic to Mundane." The article says that "[t]he Web was supposed to subvert corporate domination of culture by giving a global soapbox -- or printing press, or television station -- to anyone with a computer and a modem" and takes off from there. Was the Web ever "supposed to be" anything, much less a subversion of "corporate domination of culture?" Isn't the reduction of idle surfing and the increase of a "more direct, predetermined approach to the Web" just a "reflection" of an educated user base that knows what it wants?"
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Web No Longer Eclectic?

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  • i guess slashdot proves that to be true...

  • Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by nougatmachine ( 445974 ) <johndagen&netscape,net> on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:14PM (#2219077) Homepage
    Geez, someone needs to tell these guys about blogs. A few quick trips to Memepool [memepool.com] and BoingBoing [boingboing.net] should be enough to convince anyone that the web is still a pretty eclectic and loony place to be.
    • Sarcasm aside, the article describes an alteration in usage patterns which suggests users are actually going ot the web with purpose and intent to achieve specific goals. The same conclusion is reached in the narative in the beginning of the article.USers no longer drift from site to site just to see what's there, but instead, target their activity to the specific sites that (through advertising and other marketing efforts of the content owners) they know to contain the information they're looking for. This does not signify a loss to the web, bur rather, an evolution in web usage, and a recognition by users of the real economic falue of the web as a business and academic tool. This should be recognized as a vary positive step for the web.

      • This freedom to let anyone display their own content just resulted in a lot of mediocrity, and very little excellence. It's still the "old-world" media that has a knack of making something professional, informative and easy to understand.

        Contrast Public Access TV to TV Networks.

        A clear majority of written web content is either uninteresting, flameworthy, or poorly thought out.

        The mediocrity phenomena occured many years ago when printing presses became more affordable.

    • I visit those two logs regularly. I'm always/still on the lookout for interesting [lunacy8m.com] stuff [optusnet.com.au], but it's getting fewer and further between -- and it's all becoming shockwave animations, rather than interesting hardware projects.

      And what's happened to the /. quickies -- they used to be good for the odd odd thing.

    • ah yes, very eclectic:

      bobby didnt wanna 2 talk to me so i was liek fuck u bobby1!11111 the only thing thats gonna get horney round u is a unicorn he he he he!

      OMG i went shoping 2day and i bought the most reaveling tank top! i'm such a ssslut~~~~ Love, Jenn14
    • "...web is still a pretty eclectic and loony place to be."

      you can add webrings on everything such as "goth lifestyle" to "AMC Gremlin autos" to "anime'" to "power ranger collectibles", to "AIDS treatment and prevention", "womens' health", "dogs' health", "gerbils health"

      then throw in; every kind of pr0n known to man or redneck, millions and millions of MP3s, thousands of movies, hundreds of thousand of complete books, millions of magazine articles....

      the guys (the author and the interviewees) in this artlcle seem to be playing the "too cool" hand, just like we routinely see the "The Death of _______; Linux, UNIX, MS, C, C++, Java, COBOL, /., the Internet, yadayada....

      the Internet is the most ***AMAZING*** invention/construction/collection/device/thingie in the blood and misery soaked history of mankind

      and even more remarkably, unlike most grand scale human accomplishments (the pyramids, the cathedrals, the a-bomb), thousands didn't have to die building it, thousands more aren't being killed to maintain and grow it....

      gee, maybe amy harmon and her friends need to reboot and do a little more random surfing????
      • and even more remarkably, unlike most grand scale human accomplishments (the pyramids, the cathedrals, the a-bomb), thousands didn't have to die building it, thousands more aren't being killed to maintain and grow it....

        nope, but "the net" was originally designed around the idea OF thousands (read: millions) dying, do that count?
  • Please post a mirror of this for people without a ny times account
  • Isn't the reduction of idle surfing and the increase of a "more direct, predetermined approach to the Web" just a "reflection" of an educated user base that knows what it wants?

    Yes, and apparently the public wants the same kind of packaged, spoon-fed crap that we're already getting on the teevee. What a surprise.

    • I think you're right, and the marketing droids think the same way. It's why we have AOL and WebTV.

      With AOL, you're constantly told how "EASY!" the service is. "Moronic" would be a better word, I think. It had always been assumed that AOL was where people got their first taste of being online, then they moved on to the Internet. Apparently, it isn't true. The common excuse that I hear from people who stay with AOL is that they don't want to leave because they'd have to change their e-mail address. In fact, someone told me that just a little over a week ago. I really have to wonder if this is a real reason or merely an excuse. I've changed addresses quite a few times, and it hasn't ever been a traumatic experience. I do get tired of doing it, so I registered a domain name for 10 bucks a year, and now I have a permanent address. John C. Dvorak has an interesting column [ispworld.com] on AOL in last December's issue of Boardwatch. I just wish they had posted the sidebar online. It was a fictional (perhaps) account of how AOL fooled so many people into believing that it is the Internet.

      With WebTV, you have an almost complete convergence of the Internet and television. I mean, why should your average couch potato exert the effort to get up and walk over to a computer when they can have a wireless keyboard on their lap while they're in the recliner? Never mind that WebTV is a proprietary service and that you're viewing it on a blurry television.

      I think the mass-marketing of the Internet has defined what later adopters (those who came online after around 1996) expect from it. All the fun, offbeat, and truly interesting and informative content is still out there, but it's been overshadowed by the big corporations because these companies have the means to advertise their sites. In the early days, the Net was still a novelty, so people tended to explore to see what was out there, not unlike what we do when we move to a new city. Now, the Web has reached such public awareness that anyone who can plaster their URL on a package, advertisement, shirt, whatever, has done so. Add to that the influx of the masses, many of whom see the Net as just another service to subscribe to, like cable TV, and you have a situation where many people settle into specific patterns of use, just as they do when watching television. Anyone who finds a way to exploit that tendency, such as AOL and WebTV, or anyone who can get their URL in front of enough people for enough time, is going to benefit. This isn't to say that non-mainstream sites will disappear, but they aren't going to generate the huge number of hits that the big, corporate sites do, unless they manage to get the public's attention somehow. It is a shame, though. You can have your global soapbox, where you could be posting the most significant philosophical musings since Plato and Socrates, but all the sheep will be hanging out in the AOL chat rooms.

      • AOL is easy to use, and it's everywhere. That's why I have a backup AOL account if I'm stuck in the boonies and want to get online with my laptop. I don't always use their services, but I sometimes find the news / entertainment areas to be worthwhile (not often though).

        My father enjoys AOL chat rooms and message boards about specific subjects (woodworking, the X-Files, etc.) AOL IM is also very useful for him. It's very catered to that audience (not overly technical, but interested in the online world).

        It's very easy to paint with broad strokes, but in reality there are intelligent people that use AOL by choice.
        • Please don't take my comments personally. They aren't meant to be. The reasons I feel the way I do about AOL is:

          The commercials that scream "EASY!" over and over, all the time using sound bites from people talking about how they do this and do that on AOL (travel, news, stocks, weather), as if this is some big deal, when all this is available on the Net in much greater quantity.

          The fact that AOL charges so much more per month than ISPs do.

          The fact that their software isn't standards-compliant. Why can't they allow their e-mail client to use POP3/IMAP or at least give people the option to use these protocols if they want to use their own client software?

          The issue of standards slapped me in the face just last week. I was rebuilding a machine after a SirCam attack, and the gentleman was using AOL. So I reinstalled AOL 6.0 and got everything working. He then tried to post to a mailing list he subscribes to, but his posts kept being rejected. After doing some detective work, I came to the conclusion that the list didn't like HTML formatting in the messages. No problem, I'd just switch his mail to plain text, and he should be OK. After about 20 minutes of poking around the AOL software, I couldn't find a way to do this, so I called tech support. The tech I spoke to had me check several settings, to no avail. When we were both stumped, I mentioned that this was AOL 6.0 (I assumed she'd figure that's what was running), at which point she said that that was the reason: AOL 6.0 doesn't allow you to send plain text e-mail. She said you could switch from HTML to plain text in earlier versions, but this was dropped in 6.0. Why??? Why take away functionality??? That's just stupid! Fortunately, he had another e-mail account that wasn't on AOL, so I set him up to use that, but that wouldn't have been necessary if AOL hadn't pulled this boneheaded move.

          I do agree that there are reasons one might want to use AOL, but why do they have to have a service that dumbs things down so much? It would be so easy to have something that would allow users to grow as they increased their skills. CompuServe managed to do this back in the old days. Why can't AOL do it now?

          • The lack of standards is a very good point; in fact it's the reason why I have POP/IMAP based account elsewhere. As for some of the rather stupid decisions between versions, that is a definitely amusing point as well.

            So, I do recognize AOL has faults, but the main reason I use it is if I'm in a place like Northern Japan I can easily find a phone number through their software without having to call up technical support..

            AOL used to allow users to grow in the old days as well.. I was an AOL user back in the C64 days when it was QuantumLink -- back then it was unique and fun...
  • by Scrag ( 137843 )
    When I first started using the web, I followed almost every link I saw, used several bad search engines, and got nowhere. I'll admit that I found sites that I never would have otherwise found, but the waste of time getting there just wasn't worth it.

    I think after the excitement of the web died down a bit, everyone realized how to use it, and now uses it much more efficiently. They don't go all over the place randomly; they go straight to what they want. If you are a new user to the web it still feels exciting and new. Sadly, most people aren't new users which isn't such a bad thing really.
  • a good thing! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:17PM (#2219086) Homepage
    When you want a particular piece of information, it's bad to have to slog through dozens of crappy personal Geocities sites that say "under construction," or commercial sites that give you popups and gratuitous java applets and flash animations.

    The great thing about Google and Open Directory is that you can usually find what you want without pain.

    I don't see how any of this undercuts the personal-freedom aspect of the web. A lot of the starred "cool" sites that Open Directory steers you to are personal sites.

  • Did we expect that as the mainstream world came online it would totally follow the patterns of the early adopters? The net can't be mainstream without meeting the mainstream world at least half way.

    Indeed, perhaps we should be more surprised at how much the non-mainstream web has incolcated itself into everyday life, up from 0.001% a decade ago. That's more amazing than the fact that novelty wears off.

    If it has -- the studies reported more time spent online, and more time spent at the major sites. That can still mean an increase, if not as great, at the non-mainstream sites. And many people spend time at "popular" sites like /., which in turn point them off to potentially interesting tidbits.

    We should never have expected the ordinary world to be come or remain fascinated with everything that can be published on the web. Sturgeon's law still applies (even if, as my corollary suggests, that 90% of Sturgeon's law is crap.)

  • the article talks about a guy who used to go to all these different sites and read various things about people, their online diaries, read news stories, etc. Now this guy simply checks stock quotes and other tidbits. The web has simply gotten boring. People find other things to do in life and they typically wont include the internet, hence the only thing people to out there is check email, read the news, and of course, read /.
  • http://archives.nytimes.com/2001/08/26/technology/ 26ONLI.html [nytimes.com]

    -j (for the love of 'Taco, don't mod me up just for this!)
  • Although a lot of the stuff posted here may not be world news, it gives us all a soapbox to make an educated statement about any topic that interests us. Or for some a place to put totally random ASCII pictures of dongs and tits. Sure you may not be gaining huge publicity, but you are mistaken if you thought that everyone had a chance to become famous on the internet. Obviously, people with more money can afford advertising, domain names, webspace, servers, etc...increasing the size of their soapbox.
  • gee, i was under the impresion that the web was supposed to be a reduntant network of military and academic computers...

    and really, the military only let academia in on it, cause they were the only people who had the technology to build it. oh well, so much for history...
    • the term www is not synonymous with the internet, which is the global military network you've described. The web was designed as an easy way to share information and be able to link to related documents easily, originally between scientists, but eventually also between private parties.
      • by odaiwai ( 31983 )
        "The internet was designed so that, in time of nuclear war, the US Military would have uninterrupted access to pornography"

  • My thoughts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shd99004 ( 317968 )
    "[t]he Web was supposed to subvert corporate domination of culture by giving a global soapbox -- or printing press, or television station -- to anyone with a computer and a modem" and takes off from there. Was the Web ever "supposed to be" anything, much less a subversion of "corporate domination of culture?"

    Yes, I think that is how it was. Just look at the millions and millions of personal homepages, corporate and organization websites, blogs and everything you can think of. This is how it is, and I think that whether it was supposed to be this way or not, I can only see how this is good.

    "Isn't the reduction of idle surfing and the increase of a "more direct, predetermined approach to the Web" just a "reflection" of an educated user base that knows what it wants?"

    Yes, I believe that is true, but I think that it is not only a reflection of a user that knows what he/she wants and also knows how to get it. Perhaps people aren't that fascinated by surfing around randomly anymore, and they go to the websites they see being presented in the media. It is easier to go there directly than to search around only to grow tired of it.
  • I second the comments about blogs, and importantly (and tied very much to blogs) XML-RPC. A new layer that is going to blast the shit out of all of what we have now. Almost everything is stagnating because what we see as the internet right now is either proprietary technologies which never expand, or the text web that is growing crustier every day.

    We outgrew HTML years ago, and even though it's just fine for doling out what you need right now. XML-RPC makes networking so inherently easy that there is no longer any reason not to have a networked program where it could be networked.

    The annoying thing is all the dumbasses on wallstreet (and yes, I own stocks, and I know what I'm talking about) dumping volumes of cash into the wrong technologies. Thankfully that means the cool new technologies are growing slowly and realize what they need to survive.

    That way you won't just see XML-RPC one day and say "nifty, too bad it doesn't do X", you'll slowly see it migrate into everything you do, and it will already be capable of almost all the things you want.

    Enough ranting, checkout http://scripting.com and http://www.xml-rpc.com for daily updates on it's sucess.
    • Re:XML-RPC (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I second the comments about blogs, and importantly (and tied very much to blogs) XML-RPC. A new layer that is going to blast the shit out of all of what we have now. Almost everything is stagnating because what we see as the internet right now is either proprietary technologies which never expand, or the text web that is growing crustier every day.

      I doubt it. XML-RPC is semantically the same as RPC using Lisp expressions (and Lisp was invented 40 years ago). Sure any program can parse data, but it is making sense semantically of the data which is difficult, and even harder, interacting with another program.

  • This is all the article is saying... people have figured out how to use the web in a way that they find beneficial, and they're tuning out the dreck.

    Something else to consider: more people use the web directly in their business. It's less of a hobbyist's toy (which is how it remains for many geeks), and more of a practical tool for any number of purposes. When you have a job to do, you don't futz around -- you go straight to the sources you know work for you.
  • The New Journalism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by victwenty ( 451152 )
    I think this article is more a reflection of what's wrong with mainstream journalism these days.

    Journalists defined the web as being designed to subvert corporate media, to give anyone a voice, to put them out of business. Is that really what developers had at NCSA had in mind? Is there a mainstream journalist who cares to research the facts in this or most other matters when there are commonly repeated mantras about what something is or is about? And then a few months later they get to write an article like this one, making their subject out to be a failure at obtaining the goals which they themselves invented.

    Perhaps in something like this, reporting on the web, it doesn't really matter. But once you realize the level of ethics and research most journalists apply in reporting important happenings foreign and domestic, and that most americans do not seek out alternative sources of information.. It is rather scarey.
    • Is that really what developers had at NCSA had in mind?

      No, making a quick buck out of the work done at CERN was Marc's game.

      The absolute level of counter-cultural and off the wall stuff on the Web has never been higher. The fact that the Web now has a vast mainstream audience as well does not dilute the subversive use.

      The Web was about political transformations, but not necessarily of the type the trite journalists of the Sunday NYT think. We had a Web service in Sarajevo in 1992 during the seige.

      • The Web was about political transformations, but not necessarily of the type the trite journalists of the Sunday NYT think. We had a Web service in Sarajevo in 1992 during the seige.

        ... And people in countries where the government wants to control information (say China, Afghanistan, Australia if some of the bloody stupid legislation gets up) can connect and read info from anywhere they want. The government can't control the information anymore. You can control Radio, control the papers, control the news, but you can't control the information from the internet. Surely if the internet is going to be assigned a 'purpose', this is it - that people anywhere in the world with an internet connection can communicate with people anywhere else in the world. It breaks the government monopoly on information. Why else do you think the governments of the world are so scared of it (think DMCA)?

  • I think that the article is true to a point. I do believe that idle surfing has dropped to nil, mostly because the novelty of all the crap that is out there has finally worn off. People were in a bewildered awe of the amount of crap that was available then the realized that most of it is indeed crap, and only go for what they need.

    The reason that I stopped idle surfing was when I discovered, by accident, the most mundane page ever made. Some body had taken the time to make a complete episode guide and plot synopsis of every episode of "THe Land of the Lost." You remember... "Marshall, Will and Holly..." After stumbling across that I realize that there are far better ways to invest one energy.

    I know that there are a few sites that I religously visit almost everyday, Wall Street Journal, CNN, /., Userfriendly. If I need to get information about something that I need for work it is always a google search unless I know the source directly.

    C'est las vies.
  • by Glowing Fish ( 155236 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:43PM (#2219158) Homepage

    When the television was first invented, people would turn it on just to see the snow, if their was no singal to pick up. Just using the technology was a thrill in itself.

    I think the web was the same way. When people first got access to it, it was fun to investigate the web page that had pictures of all one hundred My Little Pony's, just because clicking was fun, and also just to see whether or not something that specialized really existed.

    Of course, when novelty dies down, people are going to use things for what they need, not just to see "if they can".

    • When the television was first invented, people would turn it on just to see the snow, if their was no singal to pick up. Just using the technology was a thrill in itself.

      And they'd still be doing it too, if it weren't for greedy corps. They figured out that there was no advertising revenue available from watching freely available quantum noise, so they censored it. All you see now on new TVs is a boring blue screen; a BSOD without text.

      Did you know that about half of the TV snow signal is cosmic background radiation? Watching snow is like watching God create the universe. It is much more enlightening that watching an insipid sitcom. There are dozens of different channels of snow to watch, and it never repeats. But no longer. If you're lucky enough to have an old TV, hold onto it.

      • Did you know that about half of the TV snow signal is cosmic background radiation

        It's actually more like 2% but it's an interesting and little known fact anyway.

      • it was fun to investigate the web page that had pictures of all one hundred My Little Pony's

        Did you know that about half of the TV snow signal is cosmic background radiation? Watching snow is like watching God create the universe

        I have always considered television to be a far inferior medium to the computer. But when we put it this way, I suppose downloading a jpeg of Kissy Lips in mint condition is no where near as interesting as watching the creation of heaven and earth

    • When the television was first invented, people would turn it on just to see the snow, if their was no singal to pick up. Just using the technology was a thrill in itself.

      That made me remember this movie I saw once about the life of Edward R Murrow, and they had clips from live broadcasts he used to do (everything was live then). For one episode - he had a camera guy and a reporter in San Francisco in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, and another reporter and camera guy in New York in front of the Brooklyn Bridge. And he just bounced back and forth between them, asking stupid questions about how the weather was and what was going on where they were standing. He was just completely amazed by the ability of the technology of the time to do enable him to talk in real time to two different people on opposite sides of the country.

      But people get used to things like that really fast. I just finished reading this book by Pat Cadigan - Tea From an Empty Cup - and I became slightly depressed thinking that most of the stuff she was talking about in the book - (large on-line RPGs, on-line communities, the obsessive way in which people go after icons and prizes in RPGs as though they were real), is already happening now even if the 'hotsuits' that interface with a person's neural system haven't arrived yet.

      If nanotechnology takes off and it suddenly becomes possible to resuscitate the dead
      (like in Terminal Cafe - another really cool book by Ian MacDonald), there would probably be about a couple of years of weirdness in which the religious right freaks out and stages a Holy War and everyone else comes to grips with the fact that eventually rejuvenated dead people will outnumber the living. But people would adjust. They'd enslave the dead and make them work for the living, and society would go on =)

      The thing I wonder is why so many people persist in believing that new technologies can provide a utopia for humanity? It should be pretty clear by now that science isn't going to do anything as far as that is concerned. Electricity didn't do it, the atom bomb sure as hell didn't do it, VCRs didn't do it, microwaves didn't do it, cable TV hasn't done it, and I don't think the internet is going to do it.

  • As many people have said by now, when we first discovered the web we "surfed", visiting hundreds of pages and different ones every time. Now, we (at least me) stick with a fairly static collection of regularly updated pages.

    The web has finally become a tool iunstead of a novelty, one that is not seen as interesting by itself any more because it's been around for too long. Surfing around for eclectic content has become the online equivalent of calling random strangers to try out your amazing new telephone.
    • I would agree and add that if I were a marketer, a decline in eclectic behavior would bug me!

      What do you meant I can't just stick the work Internet on something and have it be more fashionable??

      Not that I think we are to this point yet, but we are getting there! And soon all the hootnanny involving the Internet will just only from Distributed System researchs in Grad school who will always think the Internet is kinda cool. :)
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:44PM (#2219160) Homepage Journal
    In an article about Gator.com from a couple of weeks ago, Gator's Scott Eagle said "The promise of the Internet was always one-to-one marketing...", but I'll bet he doesn't have a notorized piece of paper anywhere that starts out "I hereby promise..." and winds up saying "...signed, The Internet", and neither does anybody else.

    People keep saying "The Internet is supposed to be..." and then they fill in the blank with whatever they think most benefits them, and then whine when it turns out to be nothing more or less than a de-centralized network of networks instead of whatever miracle machine to which they personally feel somehow divinely entitled.

  • Part of the issue here is just how rapidly people's perceptions change. Just look at some of the sites that already exist; slashdot [slashdot.org] is actually a pretty good example. A place like this never could have existed under the old system of publishing. But people have adapted so rapidly to the concept of places like slashdot that they stop seeing them as the radical change to the old order that they are. The failure of the web to live up to its promise only shows that some of its promise was a mirage. It turns out that giving everyone a virtual soapbox doesn't equate to them all having worthwhile things to say or audiences ready to listen.

  • by The Mayor ( 6048 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:45PM (#2219163)
    The Internet promised to be the next generation platform for pornography and piracy. I can remember back in the mid-80s being able to download porn images (er...I mean a good friend told me they remember...). The Internet certainly has delivered on these promises.

    I'd love to see a breakdown of total Internet bandwidth allocated to porn and piracy. I'd bet it consumes >90% of the total bandwidth used. Movies, music, and babes...now, if only they could figure out a way to download alcohol and drugs.
    • I'd love to see a breakdown of total Internet bandwidth allocated to porn and piracy. I'd bet
      it consumes >90% of the total bandwidth used. Movies, music, and babes...now, if only they
      could figure out a way to download alcohol and drugs.

      I did some statistic a few years ago on web traffic, using logs from a proxy server which a friendly admin provided. On top it's software downloads (LEGAL downloads), then porn/warez, then random stuff (hotmail, disney, etc.), with the ratios being something like 36%, 30%, rest.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:47PM (#2219167) Journal
    Sure it was. When I first saw the web, it was supposed to be a way to hyperlink citations in physics papers.

    I still have that browser somewhere on one of my NeXT machines. It's hard-wired to look for its start page at a machine at CERN that doesn't exist anymore, though.

  • So people don't have to feel dumb looking it up. From www.m-w.com [m-w.com]:

    Eclectic; adj.
    1 : selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles
    2 : composed of elements drawn from various sources;
  • This is such old news. Of course people go to a few favorite sites! They have done so ever since bookmarks were invented. The fact that people don't "surf" as randomly as before is just an indication that they know what to look for.
  • It's not the web's fault that Mr. Dudley is limiting his requests of it. He's just lost the spirit of exploration that he once had. I think I still have it. I'm always finding new and interesting things on the web, through /., k5, newsgroups, etc. I think that Mr. Dudley must be a very boring person, since he doesn't seem to have any interests outside of mainstream media. If he did, he would be finding websites of people with similar interests and exploring them, finding what interests those people have and discovering that he's interested in some of those too, and the cycle continues.

    The majority may be like Mr. Dudley, but it doesn't take a majority to make interesting things on the web. Let them have their MSNBC and their e-commerce. Just don't say the web is boring because most of its users are.

  • I wish I had an international outlet for my pointless ramblings and sensationalism. This times article embodies the reasons that I hate mainstream news. 'Dear public, let me ask you a question that you only care about because, with my years of writing experience, I can make tying your shoes sound like a life altering experience. I'll pontificate for awhile, have you hanging on my every word, and when I'm done you'll have gained absolutely nothing because the entire subject is based on personal opinions; a vapor trail that leads to my fucking wallet.' These 'journalists' can take the dramatic overlay and shove it. They need to watch the 'Bart's People' episode of the Simpsons 5 times every morning before they go to work.
  • Try Everything2 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by generic-man ( 33649 )
    I've been a member of Everything2 [everything2.com] since the days of Everything1. I have yet to find a more eclectic community there. E2 is the type of site that lets you just get lost in all the content, while allowing one-click transitions from the historical to the fantastic. While the editors weed out any nodes detrimental to the database, it is an example of how the world can create an enormous self-managed site.
  • This [smithplanet.com] is one of the strangest bits of visual entertainment I have ever seen, full of sound and fury signifiying what? I haven't a clue. But without the internet, it would very likely not have ever been, and I certainly wouldn't have seen it. Thus it is empirical evidence that the net is can still be as, ummm, 'impressive' as ever.

    Good day.

  • geeze .. even the supposed eclectic sites [absurd.org] repoted this a fFew years ago!

    but on the other hand, in searching fFor that page, i also fFound this [afterlife.org], this [dpsinfo.com], and this [aye.net].

    mundane? nah. i suspect the author there just has grown numb to what is actually quite commonplace.

  • The commercialization of the Internet brought many promises of simplifying our lives, which very few companies managed to do. It was simply based on trial and error, which created more errors than successes. This will change however, we have only seen the beginning.

    If you stand back and take a look at what worked, you'll quickly realise that it's things that simplify your life or that you can't get elsewhere. Why replace the TV? why replace newspapers? Why replace the radio? Why replace the shopping centre? We have these things already and they've been time-tested and do work!

    the things that were improved by going online are the things that have succeded and will continue to do so. Why stand in line at the bank for an hour when you can pay bills and transfer money in 2 minutes behind your computer. At the touch of a keyboard you can get insurance quotes from 50 companies, rather than calling them one by one, thus giving us a better all around experience in the end. What about getting someone's opinion before making an important purchase. The net is full of people lending a hand to others.

    The Internet should be viewed as a tool. A tool that simplifies your life. The Internet as a medium to feed us capitalistism at it's worse is slowly dying, so why worry? This should be considered a milestone in the net's history...isn't this what brought us here in the first place?
  • The Internet had and still has the power to "subvert corporate domination of culture," but that is an enormous task which requires a broad community effort both for production and distribution. Unfortunately, most artists, musicians, and writers tend to be less technically inclined and therefore often miss out on the latest technologies available to them. Fewer still realize the new business models these technologies enable. As a result, their talent either gets sucked up into the mainstream where it is conformed by a producer or goes unnoticed as they struggle to make a living doing whatever they can, while hoping for their "big break." I'm not trying to be down on artists, but I have several musician friends in this situation and it frustrates me to see it.

    What we need is something to establish the credibility of independently produced cultural goods as a personal business. MP3.com was a significant attempt in the music world, but I believe it didn't take hold because musicians expected the world to come to them. In addition, MP3.com evolved into a label of its own, limiting the artists' flexibility of advertisement and promotion.

    I mention music because it is the art I am closest with, as an amateur keyboardist and backyard acoustics engineer. (offshoot of EE major) As such, I would like to propose a business 'recipe' which budding musicians may use to make a name for themselves. I am currently considering this plan to help a local band I sometimes jam with. Comments are welcome..

    1.) Develop your own style. Take what established musicians have done and change it a little. Practice. Then change it radically. Experiment and do not try to emulate other sounds you're familiar with. People generally aren't interested in listening to another clone of B.B.King or Zeppelin or Hendrix or Korn or whoever you like.

    2.) Practice until it hurts. Don't stop until your music sounds precisely how you want. Get others opinions and listen to them. Be critical with yourself and take as much criticism as you can handle.

    3.) Find a moderately sized room or basement and stuff the ceiling and walls full of soft materials to dampen unwanted reflections. Old mattresses, blankets, egg-crate sheets, and carpet work fine. Dumpsters are your friends. If you want to go all out, search online for plans for homemade acoustic absorbing pillars and tune them to your room to kill natural resonances.

    4.) Buy two high-quality microphones or make them yourselves. Search google for "diy microphone." You'll need to position the mics equally in front of the rig and experiment for the best stereo effect. Many of the best classical and jazz recordings are made this way because it sounds more natural than miking every instrument and trying to mix them later. If any instrument is too loud, correct its position relative to the mics or do something to dampen its sound like stuffing drums with old t-shirts. Don't turn up the bass amp too much. You can always boost the lower octaves in post processing if needed. Eliminate any rattle the same way. You don't want to hear your drumset rack shimmer when the bass kicks or any windows or ducts vibrate when the lead guitar has a solo.

    5.) Do any (minor) cleanup with your favorite sound editor, then encode your performances to OggVorbis since MP3 is encumbered by patents and royalties.

    6.) Create an attractive but bandwidth-friendly webpage and find cheap hosting. Register a domain of your band's name. (Speaking of names, try not to choose a boring, trendy name like "BluezGroovz 22." Think marketing. What will people remember?)

    7.) Post your songs in OggVorbis on your website and allow FTP access to the original WAV's (but don't advertise this) so people can burn CD's or make and distribute your music in MP3 on Napster, Gnutella, etc. Use an open license in which YOU maintain copyright, but your work may be freely distributed except for commercial gain.

    8.) Burn CD's. Lots of them. They're cheap. Give them out wherever it makes sense. Print your web address boldly on the cover along with a message that says "Please Copy and Share This Disk!" This is your advertisement. It's an investment and you can probably write it off your taxes (IANAL). If people like what they hear, they will come back for more. Make friends with local DJ's and have them play your stuff at parties, dances, etc. if the music suits this environment. Visit all applicable local radio stations and see if they'll bite. Tell them your music is royalty free and they can play it to their hearts content as long as they mention your name. Small stations will be easiest. Larger stations will follow the hype. Get people to call and request your music.

    9.) Now your name is out and (hopefully) people have some of your songs 'stuck in their head.' Schedule to play wherever you can but don't limit yourself to bars and clubs where your audience is limited (and likely too inebriated to remember you). Do some charity concerts to enhance your local image. Eventually, people will actually pay $5-15 or so to hear you play live. Take $0.25 of that and use it to give everyone a free CD as they leave.

    10.) Depending on the size of your town, record labels may have heard of you by now and offer you contracts. Don't bite or you'll likely end up the next 'one hit Wonders.' You can make more money on your own. Believe in your work as an entrepreneurial business.

    11.) As your popularity grows, slowly expand your live touring region. Slowly accumulate your own stage equipment. Don't buy new ever! Avoid local music stores which often charge at least MSRP. Don't rent equipment if you can help it. Starting small is always better, but as you grow, experiment with creative lighting and effects to enhance your professional image.

    12.) Enjoy your success. If everything goes as planned and your music doesn't suck, your personal business should be able to pay your bills and those of all other band members with enough left over to buy equipment and save for the future. (You are living comfortably but frugally aren't you?) Keep writing new music and release it often. Change styles when you run dry or at least be versatile. Before long, you'll be known nationwide for a couple hit songs and be able to pull in $30 or more per ticket for your shows. Without a record label leeching off your success, you'll be all set financially and free to do whatever you want.

    Good luck!
  • I hacked up a quick and dirty op-ed about Linux last week [free2air.org]. The next day, IBM was quoting my ramblings on their Linux page [ibm.com] (it's gone now).

    For a little geek to be ranting at their keyboard, and for a megacorp to quote that as some sort of authoritive source within 24 hours seems subversive to traditional media outlets, at the very least.

    I can't describe how much that speed of it happening restored my faith in the 'net.

    Now, if I could only go and write a well thought-out piece with something to say, that would be even better.


    • This is what I love about the web and the smart web engines. You can find out the truth behind the marketing crap with a little bit of searching. I've had the domain of abnormal.com since before you had to pay for domains and I've got a slowly growing collection of text. Other people have found some of it helpful and linked to it. Because of the large number of people that link to me, my site tends to find its way towards the top of google. So a few weeks ago I buy a 3com nbx 100 phone system. I've got some nasty thigns to say about it. I put it on the web and a few days latter, I type in "nbx 100" in google and I show up 5th (I'm now 7th) and www.3com.com isn't even on the first page. Maybe someone at 3com will notice soon.
  • My days of surfing finished when I foolishly stopped using Altavista.

    Ah, those were the days though, when I considered altavista to be the ULTIMATE search engine.

    I mean, it only used to take me, ooh, I dunno, half hour perhaps to find the information I was looking for?

    And oh, what beautiful side tracks there were amongst the pages returned! Anything from garden weaving to train spotting, Black holes to pot-holing. Ahh, those were the days...

    But then along came a new search engine in town, and someone introduced me to Google. What can I say, I was sceptical. But this so-called-friend persuaded me to try it out, never once warning me of the change that he was about to inflict upon me.

    What can I say, I was young and naive, and tried it anyway. And such wonders it gave! What a buzz! When I typed something in to the magic search box, and clicked search, I found what I wanted first time, no longer did I waste most of my life looking for what I wanted - with Google, I had found it.

    Only now, after reading this article do I realise the part of my life that I have lost. No longer can I search for something I want to find and get sidetracked. I tried to go back, but couldn't. The power of Google was just too much. My case is too far gone. I can't quit, I have tried switching back to altavista, but it just doesn't "do" anything for me any longer.

    Oh well, gotta use google again. Maybe - just maybe - it will find something totally unrelated to what I'm after. Maybe...

  • I think the point is that the internet used to be a place where you could escape all the corporate noise, where anyone could have their own little corner, and that's what made it neat. Nowadays though, the internet is not so much for idle enjoyment or for transferring information, but its for making money. Corporations, gateways, banner ads all have taken over the net and blotted out what was once so great about it.
  • Intelligent People (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nerdin ( 1330 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @07:26PM (#2219498)
    I've been working with it since early nineties, and my older son began to read on screen before than on paper.
    He's now 13. A quote from him, six months ago:

    "Internet is no longer carried out by intelligent people. Now it looks too much like TV".

    'nuff said.
    • "[The] Internet is no longer carried out by intelligent people. Now it looks too much like TV".

      Well yeah, cathode ray tubes are like that. :-)

      • So if you browse the web on your Palm or a flat-panel monitor, the web gets cooler? How about projection screens? I've never seen anything projected except crappy Powerpoint slides, so I don't know.
        • So if you browse the web on your Palm or a flat-panel monitor, the web gets cooler?

          Well, naturally yeah. Now if you use a webpad, you get even more points for über-geekdom.

          How about projection screens?

          Even better, especially if it's tiny & portable!

          I've never seen anything projected except crappy Powerpoint slides, so I don't know.

          Imagine Quake III or Counterstrike on one of those babies on a THX-certified system. Of course, if you can play something like that on a Palm, you'll rule the hill for a while..

          But keep in mind, no matter what you use. The more money you have to dole out to get one, the better. So you don't really need a clue, just lots of cash ;-)

          And uuh, I think some people need to learn to appreciate jokes better ;*)

          - Steeltoe
  • It's just that getting traffic to your page is so hard when every site links to Salon.com or the New York Times. No one pays attention to little banner ads any more, and unless you have a fortune to spend on advertising (if I had that, I wouldn't need to advertise) you're out of luck. I have alot of places linking to me, but 50-60 hits/month from them doesn't do much to help. I'm stuck right now trying to write submission letters to art magazines and dead tree media because I've pretty much hit a dead end on getting my work around online.

    I'd say the web is more eclectic than ever...it's just getting harder and harder for people seriously promoting unique and original material to get their name/URL out there. Until I get brave enough to write my URL on my body and streak through some major metropolitan area... well, nevermind. I'll always have my .sig.

  • "[t]he Web was supposed to subvert corporate domination of culture by giving a global soapbox -- or printing press, or television station -- to anyone with a computer and a modem" The reason it took/is taking the web a long time to develop to the point where this is common and actually useful (geocities pages are not useful) is that you can't host a website with a dialup connection, and hell, you can't even host it on most cable lines and DSL (not all of course). And even if you do manage to have a DSL with a static-ip or a T1 available, server software is not yet set up to the point where the average non-geek to publish. This will happen, and it will be beautiful.


    I also wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that I am using the internet in this way. It's young and not all that active yet, but I'm running a slash site called terradot [terradot.org] , with a slogan of growing awareness, and it's got a very broad topic range. Please check it out. Also, there are many other good sites that are attempting to take back the power of propoganda and distribute it a little more evenly, instead of the wealthy having it all and the middle and lower classes having none. The internet has this potential, and all we need to do now is make it happen. As soon as I started reading /. I felt like I was connected to the geek community - in the know - and when something important happened, I knew about it. You don't find all the important stuff on CNN. Some other sites are the Independent Media Center [indymedia.org], Common Dreams [commondreams.com] and Smokedot [smokedot.org]. Obviously there are many more. Check it out, once again, check out terradot [terradot.org]. ;)


    cheers, ouroboros

  • Was the Web ever "supposed to be" anything, much less a subversion of "corporate domination of culture?"

    According to Jon Katz, it was...
  • The internet was a small, subversive group when it started and hence its reputation as being a completely free society. Now that there are a billion AOL subscribers surfing the web there seems to be a great lament that internet has "gone mainstream." Not surprisingly these protests tend to come from the billion AOL users looking for granny pr0n.

    I think the subversives remain and the shutdown of a "wanna-be" site like Napster doesn't particularly change a thing. When rebellion becomes mainstream the rebels simply dig themselves deeper.

    There is all sort of old-school internet content out there if you're willing to dip your toes in the churning waters outside Yahoo...

  • Nah, the web's still pretty damn electric. Whaddya think all those routers and servers run on, little hamsters or Flintstone style birds looking into the camera and going 'it's a living'?

    Oh... nevermind.
  • Those eclectic sites that made us all laugh, which snowballed into popularity. I'll start the list:

    * I kiss you - Mahir the Turkish stud
    * hamster dance
    * bonsai kittens

    Any more?

  • The web was invented as a research tool that piggybacked off the Internet. Period. Everything else has been a matter of people projecting their own wants and desires onto what they _think_ they see in the web.

    Music traders see it as a place to get MP3 files.

    Gamers see it as a place to meet other gamers and play online.

    Marketers see it as a tool to drive more personalized sales.

    Pr0n hounds see it as a place to get lots of free pr0n.

    Geeks see it as a community of fellow-travellers, as do other people too.

    And so on...

    You know what? They're all right - and so are the people not listed here. The important point to all this (and implied by my saying they're all correct) is that the Internet is what you need/want it to be. Period. More people now are using the Internet as a Place To Get Stuff Done, as opposed to a Cool New Thing. So there's less random wandering, and a lot more travel to destination sites. It's where you Get Stuff Done. There's still a lot of cool, random, and strange stuff out there if you either know where to look, or feel like taking the time to look. But fewer people want to do that nowadays - heck, I don't want to do that as much nowadays - even though when I do wander, having high-speed connections at home and work makes it a lot more fun than it was back in the 33.6 dialup days.

    The soapboxes are still out there, but just like in reality (you know, the big room with blue ceilings - where you can't readily see the walls), people ignore the folks who shout on the street corners in cyberspace, too.

  • ..even in Cyberspace.

    It seems to me that any time some upstart tries to extend the web to "what it was supposed to be" one or another large corporation or organisation steps in and buries it.

    Is Australia now, we have legislation in place that classifies any piece of audio or video content over 15 seconds as a "broadcast" - which implies that, in Aus., you need a broadcast license to put together any decent multimedia web site.

    If you removed any and all commercial sites from the Internet - would we be any worse off?

  • Freenet has no such problems. No Freenet site can own a single name.ext domain name.

    http://freenet.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]
  • Is there really less idle surfing, or just a smaller PERCENTAGE of idle surfing?

    The web has ten times as many users as it did a few years ago, and it has a lot more established places to go. Idle surfing is no longer the ONLY thing to do, and idle surfers are no longer the only web users.

    So this doesn't mean there are fewer clicks and eyeballs wandering around looking at people's cat pictures, but twice as many of them would still be a smaller percentage of a larger user base surfing a larger web...

  • Something can be interesting if it is really new, newsbreaking stuff. On the other hand, anything is interesting, if we go deep into it as well, instead of looking at it from the distance and saying, "Hey, I have seen that one before", like the 15 yr old who is claimed to have said, in one of these comments. People have been on the internet for all this time, creating content (porn or otherwise :)), delivering it, and making money out of it. People have been working on making it faster and more endearing. And people have been working on making it singular, like microsoft or aol or ***, simply because they understand its worth to the world.
    The internet will never become another TV box, for most people, unless they are god, and hence know everything. There is a vast ocean of information out there, and it wont become dry anytime sooner......
  • Could it be because HamsterDance.com doesn't appear to be up any more?

    Realistically, though, I think there's just so much out there, people tend to go directly to what they're looking for rather than wade through all of the crap. Humorous home pages used to be fun, but now there's just so much of it. The jokes are old (how many times can you read Account of an AOL User or You know you're a Geek if... articles?).

    - Jman
  • Of course, the largest percentage of the Web is going to be corporate propaganda and porn. So what? In absolute numbers, the Web still contains more authors, more diverse viewpoints, and a larger volume of intelligent content than any medium before it. The Web has been living up to its promise.

    However, as a good first step, to avoid the kind of mundane web sites the NYT article is complaining about, you might stop reading the New York Times itself.

  • The internet is exactly what happens when you mix a bunch of unsupervised, money-hungry businesses with lots of (generally) open-minded people looking for porn.

    For anyone who used to frequent the BBS scene "back in the day" you will probably remember that it was pretty similar, except with a lot more Trade Wars (tm)...
  • The few neurons I have seem to recall that the internet was "supposed to be" an idea and information exchange for the military, research institutions, and selected big businesses (read Banks). Then they decided to commercialize it.

    Imagine going down into your favourite ghetto and finding all the people spraying grafitti on the walls. Now, you announce that there's free cans of any colour spray-paint they want in the main public library. Feel free to test them out while you're there.

    Sure, you get a few masterpieces tucked away in the corners, but boy is there alot of "B0b Ru1ez" to wade through.
  • Here's my theory: Back in the ancient days, the BeforeTime, the web was mostly the home of academics, students, geeks, gen-Xers, /.'ers and other assorted slackers and layabouts who had plenty of time on their hands and no real purpose in life ;-). Naturally random web surfing was the perfect sort of mental masturbation for these lusers. As the web became more of a mainstream phenomenon, there were more real people on the web -- people with jobs, families, houses, lives, shit to do. So naturally web surfing became more purposeful. I predict, though, that this may change dramatically when boomers start retiring and have more free time.

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