My blog draft is up in the old grey matter, and I can’t seem to start typing in this box (not a prompt one) until I have a metaphor image and a title. Hardly efficient.

I have done that.

Just because it is 2023 and I loathe doing this, I asked the weakest LLM (free ChatGPT3.5), “Create a title and an opening paragraph for a CogDogBlog post about telling stories of positive serendipity arising from open sharing on the internet using a metaphor of an old 78RPM record player.”

I got:

Title: “Spin the Web of Serendipity: Internet Stories in 78 RPM”

In the digital age, the internet is a vast, ever-spinning record player, and its needle often drops onto the most unexpected grooves, revealing serendipitous tales of connection and discovery. Just like the old 78 RPM record players that brought music to life in a bygone era, the web serves as a platform for sharing stories of positive serendipity born from open exchanges and connections. In this CogDogBlog post, we will explore how the internet has become a virtual record collection where each click and keystroke can lead us to serendipitous moments that remind us of the beauty in shared stories and the power of connecting through the web.

ChatGPT response.

On one level, it’s not bad, it has a flow and sticks to the prompt. On the other hand, it’s syrupy and bland But soon this stuff will feed back recursively into the training data, and this web, Mr Phelps, will self destruct in….

Hey, Author, Get Back on Track

That portable Crosley record player (still available!) on the featured image was something I found at my Mom’s house, unique because it still had a built in setting to play 78RPMs, some of which I still have from ones originally in my parent’s basement. See? I am spiraling down story trails that no AI will ever conjure.

You see, I do end up sliding off my topic, am I more like an AI that needs a prompt?

Okay, this is the thing. A few months ago, I got it in my mind to pull an old record off the shelf (does anyone hear the song?) and submit something for the upcoming Open Education 2023 Conference themed Innovation and Praxis: Building on 20 Years of Community. Again, I wanted to spin what started at OpenEd 2009 as (put these words together as once I got copyright threatened) Amazing [and and and and renamed “True”] Stories of Openness into a version for 2023 on what is now called True Stories of Openness-Unexpected Acts Serendipity Sprung from Open Sharing.

My session proposal OpenEd, Are there still ________ Stories of Openness Fourteen Years Later? made the cut for a pre-recorded session, I put out a video and a call for stories, pinged a bunch of people who shared stories in 2009.

Then I dawdled and procrastinated, but snuck my video in just at deadline. I will add it later once it has played at the conference.

The Reality Is…

It’s great to be able to play media like old 78s but it’s not like a TikTok music video will be what people will put on an old record player.

The whole idea of the open web of 2009 is really called into question here in 2023, and is due my own bit of recalibration. The idea of a free open unenclosed commons, the idea that shaped me, needs recalibration. Maybe just my own.

It came in the responses of people I reached out to. It came from reading more in depth the Paradox of Open (from the Open Futures project which is right at the center of this question, rather than my feeble blog lobs from the sides, thanks Paul Stacey for the link there). It’s realization that the web has gone to more of a hosted, controlled experience on Big platforms that make connection both more convenient and yet more enclosing, and easily taken away. What colleagues used to take time to add to the web fabric, a web room of one’s own, is mostly social media posts laden with Like clicks that float downstream or at best, only in docs. It is now fractionated as the social media disaspora is growing more diasporated. It’s the commercialization of everything, which makes the simple act of reading online an effort of signing ip and dismissing boxes of ads and solicitations covering content. It’s that two letter acronym which might subsume everything, including our supply of water and energy.

I admit that collating small stories of accidental positive experiences that happen between people (stress people) online is hardly novel, or even noticeable anymore.

It’s not that the web itself is gone or dead, but the volume of what it is made and cared for by individuals is going farther out on the long long tail. What happens when the voices are just mixed among the flotsome of generated regurgitations? That 2009 web is both there and not there, but it’s not worth (present writing seems to contradict) nostaligizing but still, there are elements I think not wanting to lose.

So I am going to say that after this next spin, the Amazing/True Sories record will go back on the shelf permanently and the old record player can go back in the closet.



These “things” that amaze me still happen. And I will continue to take note, and likely blah blah blog on about them. This happened in the time I was getting my video together, an echo in 2023 responding to something posted in 2014 that began with my curiosity of architectural building detail spotted on a street in Seattle and somehow still gets found, and added onto (old school comments).

Comment followup to my internet rabbit hole wandering from a building sign to the legendary Baker Bill.

They provide a glint of hope out there (and cheers for radical hope, Higher Education for Good). If we don’t have that, what do we have? Can I still be a Churchillian Optimist?

Okay, the Web Record Player Remains Open

My tiny collection shall remain open and ready for new stories to be added for as long as I breathe, and hopefully a few years after if I line up a domain legacy plan. I expect any new ones added will come from me, but just in case someone watches my talk now or later, and you are oddly compelled to post something there (or for that matter to any shred of the web you actually own now), well it will be honored here.

That Old Time World Wide Web

Maybe I will get back to a cover song era, maybe not, and hardly an artist I was a big fan of but have to respect longevity, but this (rewritten) song fits.

Just take an old link off the server shelf
I’ll click and re-read ’em by myself
Today’s net ain’t got the same flow and ebb
I like that old time world wide web
Don’t try to make me write a SubStack
You’ll never even get me out of my blog
In ten minutes I’d go for a joh
I like that old time world wide web
Still like that old time world wide web
That kind of sites made by one hand
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time world wide web

sloppy quick rewrite lyrics of Old Time Rock and Roll

It’s still there, even if swarmed over my generated palabara.

What’s on your record player?

Featured Image: Spinning 78’s flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license with screenshot of original Amazing/True Stories site from 2009.

If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Profile Picture for CogDog The Blog
An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *