Supposedly in “Take Back the Net”, the Dec 30 issue of PC Magazine has sent Blogging, wikis, and RSS mainstream, according to a entry by Michelle. The article does provide a nice overview of the range of major blog tools, has some decent resources, etc, but there are some statements in the opening that have me scratching my head, wondering just which internet the author, Cade Metz, is writing about.

Such expectations were summarily quashed by the mid-nineties. The Web didn’t give everyone a voice. It didn’t allow for the widespread exchange of ideas. With a browser, you could easily read Web pages posted by others. But there wasn’t a comparably simple and effective way for you to create, post, and update your own pages..

Unless you were a seasoned computer user, building or editing a page with tools like Macromedia’s Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage was far too difficult and time-consuming. Hosting your own site was a technical nightmare, and paying someone else to host it was expensive.

I was there in the mid 1990s but FrontPage and Dreazmweaver were not. Both Microsoft and Macromedia had not even gotten web development tools into their radar scope. And I am also wondering how poor Cade managed to overlook the billions of web pages ordinary people posted into Yahoo, AngelFire, Tripod, GeoCities- etc? These are not propeller head sites!

Maybe I am quibbling, but there was a rampant growth in personal web pages throughout this period– I know because we offered an online HTML tutorial in 1994, and as part of our clever scheme, in lesson 12 where we teach you how to write a link that generates an email message, we have the participants test such a link that sends a message to me. This has resulted in more than 3300 messages from ordinary individuals, from 8 to 83, from every domain you can name, who were learning how to self express.

And as far as that horrific cost of getting your web pages hosted, on Cade’s internet never includes the 300+ free web hostings listed at freewebspace.net.

I am not arguing at all with the premise that blogs, rss, and (well not sure yet about) wikis may greatly accelerate the “small” guy/gal publisher. but this notion of “taking the net” back is rather simpler- Big Biz may have a lot of real estate, the WalMarts and the tacky shopping malls, but they do not have all of, they do not control the back alleys, the museums, the countryside, the markets, the cafes, etc. where there is character, personality, and open exchange.

And to top of the rant, can you believe the paucity of information to ads on PCMag’s web site? The source code for each page is 100k, there is another 30k of CSS, another 100k of images for ads I ignore– all to get 3-5 paragraphs per text. In Tufte-ian terms, the information density here is infinitesimal.

The post "Take Back What Net?" was originally dropped like a smoking hot potato at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2003/12/take-back/) on December 13, 2003.

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