Giddyup! Ride the Ole Information Superhighway

Our local paper carries a Monday morning local column on computers, most of the time covering those critical questions on spyware and video drivers for Vista. But the writer sometimes looks at the Internet (with a Capital I), and today I was curious to read the take on social networks.

You had my riding down nostalgia lane with the opening:

The Internet, often referred to as the “Information Superhighway.” is bulging with information that grows exponentially every day.

Really? Maybe me and Gomer should check out this new fangled Information Hghway.

When was the last time you heard someone call the net the “Information Superhighway?” I was instantly transported back to the early 1990s when the (before we had enough people on the net to make a meme) phrase was coined by Al Gore (long before his pseudo claim to inventing it).

infohwy.gifAt the time I thought it was silly and even hoisted a sarcastic web page (heck, if I did not know better, I would claim I was blogging and maybe that I invented that concept), still clinging to life at my old Maricopa web site, on the Information SuperHypeWay.

That image might have been my invention of the term “mashup”, taking a public photo of the then VP, an image of a city a student graphic artists had created for us for another project, and my touch, the Photoshopped empty bubbles.

At the time the notion seemed silly to me, as I was using dialup at home waiting for the the long promised cable highway to reach our part of town (I think it took about 5 more years), and the metaphor seemed off kilter, reminding me of overpasses that were built for a nearby freeway about 6 years before the freeway actually connected them.


That all seemed so long ago until today’s newspaper column.

Now of course, it is easy to throw darts at someone charged with writing in a few paragraphs trying to explain what social networking is to a likely audience that does not know that Ajax is something good for your computer. And the effort is not all that bad, though strangely limited to describing social networking as social bookmarking (Digg and del.icio.us), yet again, limiting the main benefit to helping drive traffic to sites you bookmark by tagging them in these sites.

But I enjoyed more the memory of driving my Buick Century down the speedy highway…

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I was in New York last week and was reading the local newspaper. This newspaper was geared toward seniors and was describing this new concept of blogging. I was laughing as I read it because I felt like I was transported back, too.

    I read it out loud to my cousin, who is not a blogger. As I read it, I realized that I need to think about these things. While I have been cruising along this highway at warp speed (or beyond), most people have not. Blogging *is* new to them (while it is very old (in online terms, certainly) to us).

    What I also realized is that newspapers are trying to reach the lowest common denominator. Heck, some of those people probably don’t even have computers, not to mention online access. While that seems almost inconceivable, it is a reality. I’m trying to remember to give a little latitude to journalists. At least they are trying to share this stuff with people. With a term as comprehensive as “web 2.0,” something few people even agree on a definition of, I can imagine it is difficult sharing these concepts with people who don’t even know there is a difference between social bookmarking and browser bookmarking.

  2. I agree Dawn, and those were thoughts running in my mind when I wrote this– however, who is it that decides how “dumb” to “dumb it down”? What is that based on? Should the media just aim as low as possible?

  3. Good question. I’m not sure there is a definitive answer to that. I guess knowing your audience is the most important thing. That newspaper I read, really did gear the article toward seniors. It used terms they would understand and didn’t throw in “hip” terms that might seem foreign to them (other than “blog” — although they did keep saying weblog or web log).

    Audience, audience, audience is all I can say.

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