Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We were our own curators

I was thinking about the earlier days of the web a bit ago, those days when blogging seemed to be interesting and unique and you actually had readers that sought out bloggers who had similar interests.

Those days are gone and I was considering why. The main idea I kept coming back to was that there was no Twitter or Facebook so there was not a constant stream of information coming at you 24/7.


You had to seek out blogs, typically via searching on Google. For example, I found several blogs by searching for Corner Gas because it was a show I enjoyed and I wanted to find others who enjoyed it.

Once you found a blog you liked, you either had to bookmark it and visit it daily to see if there was a new update or follow the blog in Wordpress or Blogger or subscribe via RSS in a program you installed on your machine or in something like Google Reader.

Since bloggers had no other real outlet to share, you had to go to the blogs to get the updates if you cared to keep up with the person writing the blog and the updates typically came only once a day and that was very manageable. Our circles were growing, thanks to the internet, but they were also still relatively small. Information was out there but it came at a much slower speed. There was time to digest it instead of it being shoved down our throats so fast we choke on it.

We were our own curators. We weren't being bombarded with information from hundreds of people and then the algorithms telling us everything these hundreds of people have liked or commented on in addition to what they have posted.

Our internet lives were narrowed down to the few people we kept up with and we lived our real lives externally of the internet.
Source: https://web.archive.org/web/19991012022531/http://www.blogger.com

Now, our internet lives and our external lives are blended together so it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Everything that happens, whether good or bad, must be considered for sharing and sometimes it feels almost wrong to not share the milestones we are witnessing. Maybe cousin whoever that I haven't seen in twenty years would like to see what the kids are up to. But why? What does someone get out of seeing one more picture in a stream of pictures?

Back in 2007, one post like this would be the only update people would see from me if they cared to see it. I was not supplementing it with a tweet or an Instagram picture or a Facebook post. This was it and it was plenty.

The noise of social media makes my head spin more and more as we go on and I think that is because the algorithms add more and more to the stream. I just opened Facebook and I got a post about someone who I do not know whose dog just died. I got it because a friend from college commented on the post. Why did I need to see that? It makes so sense.

It's just a matter of time before enough people say "It makes no sense" and these apps either go away or have to put in options to filter out all of the extras in order to keep people from quitting in droves or not signing up in the first place.

Maybe, just maybe, the generation of decision makers currently in our high schools and colleges will be the ones to not sign up, to not be lured in by fomo and maybe, just maybe, an app or a platform will rise up that will meet their needs, only showing what they actually share and giving us the option to cut out the politics and other nonsense.

It's a tall order but it's what we need to not get buried in so much data that nothing stands out anymore and it's what these social media businesses will need to keep future generations freely giving them their data.

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