Little Bits of Webness

It helps to sit back and take in how prolific the web has become- no it does not reach every world citizen and there are divides, indeed, but to lose sight of how it permeates culture and digs deeper all the time– well it means something to me to acknowledge it. What is ordinary today was really not even thinkable maybe 8 years ago. And it boggles the mind to flip the time frame forward and try to imagine where it will fling us.

So not to drop down to the grandparent’s muttering of “I can remember slugging 10 pounds of raw HTML in bare feet through the snow”– I can distinctly remember when we did not see URLs on every ad, when people looked up phone numbers in this strange wast of paper known as “the phone book”, when booking a trip meant having to talk to a travel agent, music was bought in manufactured defined collections that needed to be paid for in person at this place called a “record store”…. okay, its getting boring.

It rang into focus on my travel today for a short visit to Austin. On the Supershuttle van this morning, the driver was talking about his social networking start up site he was convinced will take him away from driving blue vans, a woman passenger had a job in the northwest as a “Web Communications Director”, and myself was there also making a living from this web monkey business. At the airport I saw more than just a few people, that by physical guestimates, I would not typically put in the geek category, intently focused on pecking messages on their blackberries. Lots of them. I felt really old fashioned with my mobile phone that only made phone calls and less than 1 MP images. When I was waiting to leave the NMC office at the end of meetings today, from one neighboring office a woman was yelling in a high pitched voice, “JUST TEXT ME THE DAMN DIRECTIONS!”. In the other office, a tax consultant, I was fairly sure the receptionist was picking out avatar outfits from a rather pink looking web site.

None of these are really remarkable, but it is considering the web as part of our lives is really just approaching the life cycle of almost (depends how you count) as a generation. The Full Webness is coming of Age, and I wonder if we really, really, REALLY, are ready.

“When I was a web kid, I wrote HTML font tags by hand in a blizzard…”

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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. Luxury. We used to dream of writing HTML font tags by hand. *We* used to write our web pages in full binary and publish them on web servers we’d written in assembler language. Not much, I know, but we were happy.

  2. Whippersnappers…

    I remember chatting online at GEnie, using a TeleVideo 950 and an acoustic coupler modem. (I think the forum host was Ada Lovelace.)

    One thing all of this underscores is the sheer unexpectedness of it all. But Stewart Brand said it years ago in The Media Lab:

    We have only another decade or so of carrying on about computers as the big new bad/good thing. They’re about to disappear from view the way motors did. Engines were cause for wonder and speculation when they ran ships and railroads. Nobody called the automobile or truck a personal railroad, but that’s what it was, and people still were impressed. Then motors got smaller and disappeared into lawn mowers, refrigerators, toothbrushes, wristwatches, and nobody…speculates now about what motors will become or worries much about what they are doing to human dignity or economic inequality.

  3. I remember when my wife became a United States Citizen just about 10 years ago. After the standard speeches were over, the judge who oversaw the courtroom of newly minted citizens rather then giving a speech imploring them to vote or other citizeny type things. , implored each and everyone of them to learn about the Internet and the WWW – sage advice indeed.

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