What kinds of web footprints are you leaving? Or does it matter since they just blow away? Where do you choose to do your walking?
I am not talking about your data trails, am talking about the trails you make as a contribution for others.
I know my answers, which are just mine, and are not likely anywhere near yours. But with each day of 2023, the web I walked into in November 1993 with the widest sense of wonder (I wonder about when I last wondered about wonder), is fraying away, or being left behind for the commodified mall of platforms. Ot just left as error messages. The 404 web.
I could go darker, I say to my 3 or 4 readers. But. The Wonder is still there, I need to trust in that, and perhaps just extremely unevenly distributed as the past future used to go.
I don’t know why I reached for numerical headings, but am again borrowing your style, Kate Bowles. You see, like the current inevitable technical overlord, my mind is “trained” on stuff (though training is a narrow word for what I think my grey matter CPU does). All I have read and seen is in me, and then I generate something from it. Who ya callin’ Artificial?
There was an online discuss–well thread? blip? where some others I do “follow” and are friends I have been in the same room together, were talking about a certain aviary named technology dying.
My internal storage database went rummaging around for an article a long time ago I read from a rather prominent writer who had driven an interesting stake into the heart of claims that technology “dies”. I remember they had pulled a random page of tools (like implements) from a 1890s?1900s? Sears Catalog, all would be echnologies one would guess are dead. But the author found somewhere in the world, some artisan was still making them.
I could not for the life of me remember the author’s name. I tried the old oracle of knowledge with searches like “writer who found tools from old catalog still in use” and came up empty, just stuff about library catalogs. A few more failed. Is it the search fail or my weak prompts? Because apparently, all future work will be typing prompts into boxes.
Then I remembered I had likely blogged about it. My blog, my outboard brain! And shazam, my own blog search on old catalog tools still being made hits it as a first result- from Feb 1, 2011 Not One Tech Extinction reconnects my neurons! That was Kevin Kelly, a big shot that back then I had as a guest for an NMC online show I did (those footprints of course are wiped out, as is the recording done in old Adobe Connect).
But I did find what I sought, Kelly’s 2006 blog post on Immortal Technologies:
One of my hypothesis is that species of technology, unlike species in biology, do not go extinct. When I really look at supposed extinct species of technology, I find they still survive in some fashion. A close examination of by-gone technologies shows that somewhere on the planet someone is still producing it. A technique or artifact may be rare in the developed world but quite common in the developing world. For instance, Burma is full of ox-cart technology; basketry is ubiquitous in most of Africa; hand spinning still thriving in Bolivia. A technology may be enthusiastically embraced by a heritage-based minority in modern society, if only for traditional satisfaction. Consider the traditional ways of the Amish, or modern tribal communities. Often old technology is obsolete, that is, it is not very ubiquitous or second rate, but it still may be in small-time use, as many old-fashioned ways are.http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2006/02/immortal_techno.php
Yep, these days a blog is “enthusiastically embraced by a heritage-based minority in modern society, if only for traditional satisfaction” its posts in small-time use, left as durable footprints on the web, right there sitting where it was 17 years ago.
Someone’s re-share in Mastodon (oh yes boost), maybe it was Roland Tanglao brought a sad note to see from Boris Mann (who I crossed paths with long ago in the Northern Voice Vancouver days)
Boris’s message marked the passing away of Darren Barefoot, who was the co-founder of Northern Voice. In his last days before cancer closed the lights, or maybe it was ahead of time, Darren’s blog left his last web footprint, a post on his own blog/domain, They Were All Splendid.
I will not even taint it by trying to summarize. Read it yourself. I had some memories of seeing his earlier posts (tweeted maybe by Boris or Roland?) or perhaps in flickr photos of Darren’s Splendid things.
His site lists a long set of footprints, his first web site in 1999, but what I remember, his post describing the idea that lead to a survey that led to the first Northern Voice conference in 2005. I became aware of it of course because Brian Lamb blogged about it (more web footprints still visible), and I think reached out to me as I went to Northern Voice for the first of several times in 2006.
I can’t say I knew Darren, I probably met him, but I was there in that era, when nothing was proven and everything possible for the web. I can say I was there.So many things for me came as an outgrowth of Northern Voice, the connections, friendships, photos.
Web footprints that will be there for while.
Sadly, Darren was not the first Northern Voicer to blog their own last post- I remember being astonished/amazed at the web footprint left behind by Derek Miller in 2011, alas also a victim of cancer.
Northern Voice attracted a bunch of digital photography nerds, running informal sessions where people would gather and share/talk about gear, software, and invariably, go out on the Vancouver streets for a photo walk.
That’s where I met Derek. I cannot remember interactions, but that he was always gracious. The thing that is hard to describe about those Northern Voice conferences, is how there was no prestige hierarchy, it was flat, even though it drew upon people from not often overlapping Venn regions- tech nerds, educators, and social activists.
I remember using Derek’s example photos for How a Camera Works, showing visually how aperture shutter speed affected images.
Speaking of web footprints, I forgot Derek’s penmachine.com domain from one of my own Northern Voice talks in 2011- Looking Through the Lens where I tried to make analogies between the functions/settings for photography and learning.
But looking at that old site (broken links, dead flash embeds), are URLs that spark memories- I always liked using Kris Krug’s story that went behind a photo that went beyond viral on flickr. Kris too was like a rock star photographer, yet treated me as a young tech head and just starting in digital photography, as an equal.
I see in my links something stunningly relevant, a post from Kris’s blog:
What we leave behind is our digital footprint (Kris Krug) http://www.kriskrug.com/2011/02/01/what-we-leave-behind-is-our-digital-footprint/
With sad irony, that digital footprint link ends up at a domain for sale sign. Fortunately, ghosts can be summoned from the Wayback Machine.
Our future is being documented by us in our present. Each and everyone of us who has a digital camera, a cellphone, a computer or even a camera phone has the task of creating our living digital history in real time. Our digital landscape has changed drastically from the meaningless dribble that once was in a stream of collective consciousness that is being contributed to by all of us. Collectively everything that we capture is part of our digital footprint that will exist as a living breathing legacy of ourselves online.
The combination of our collective task of documentation and incentive of sharing has joined forces with the thriving Open Source culture. Not only are we inspired to create and then share but we are also infusing the two into spaces, like unconferences and camps, which allow for both situations to transpire. These spaces are open to everyone, sustained by all and owned by none. It only makes perfect sense that our changing interaction with our present state would happen collectively in our own making.What we leave behind is our digital footprint Kris Krug, Feb 1, 2011
Hello from 2023.
To go back to where this started, mobius strip like, I said “dying” not dead.
I am not contemplating my mountain of web sites as some kind of legacy that matters. Taking care of and preserving my web tracks is not about my last blog post as a goodbye. If anything, it’s perhaps about the first one, and all the ones in between, all of my Pinboard bookmarks (and earlier ones imported from del.icio.us), my flickr photos, the bits and bobs of my archived web sites and ones I have rescued from the dead when others closed shop.
I firmly believe in the web we have woven ourselves (not done by others for us) and the one we care for as individuals. I hate being responsible for breaking any link I have created.
If your followers, likes, and LinkedIn connections are the tracks you care about so be it.
My stuff matters. To me, and I care about that fading dream of the web. Without it, what is there?
There’s always stuff to add after publishing! I wonder if I should comment on my own posts (it helps with the illusion that no one reads me). But sitting in an open tab was Jason Kotke’s marking of his 25th year of leaving footprints
I realize how it sounds, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s the truth. When I first clapped eyes on the World Wide Web, I fell in love. Here’s how I described the experience in a 2016 post about Halt and Catch Fire:https://kottke.org/23/03/kottke-is-25-years-old-today
When I tell people about the first time I saw the Web, I sheepishly describe it as love at first sight. Logging on that first time, using an early version of NCSA Mosaic with a network login borrowed from my physics advisor, was the only time in my life I have ever seen something so clearly, been sure of anything so completely. It was a like a thunderclap — “the amazing possibility to be able to go anywhere within something that is magnificent and never-ending” — and I just knew this was for me and that it was going to be huge and important. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but the Web is the true love of my life and ever since I’ve been trying to live inside the feeling I had when I first saw it.
I too want to be on the web and “live inside the feeling I had when I first saw it” (back when we had to refer to it as the “World Wide Web” and not simply “the web”).
Featured Image: A combination of two of my own photo, which have their own tracks– Steps into Time flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) and 2016/366/292 The Web is a Tentative Thing flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)