Web, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

Web, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

Hearkening back to the advent of the internet, I recall a time of exuberance personal, and skepticism from others. I was an early adopter, because I liked computers, and I also invented the internet. I know, Al Gore did too, but it was a phenomenon so collective that no individual could claim it as their own. It was simply an inevitability of the progress in computing and communication, and when such things happen in a society, invention seems something that is born of the democracy of a culture—like we are all somehow connected to the huge hive mind that is godlike in its direction, in its focus, in its capability to birth genius. Such was the adulation of the internet. I do recall the skepticism that seemed to want to thwart my own enthusiasm. This came from older people. My bosses and their contemporaries looked at this thing and reviled.

I have no idea why I am writing about the internet. Certainly there are many who are actually qualified to do so, and this is far away from my wheelhouse (whatever that is). But now that I am older, I feel like my grandmother when her children were speaking of the VCR and the Betamax. And now I understand. Show me something new, and worse, show me something about web 2.0, and I suddenly feel old and tired. I was born into computers with the Apple IIe, which was a thing I coveted (forgive me, Father) from my wealthier friends. My first computer was the Macintosh SE, with it’s dual floppy drive and massive 40MB hard drive. I could stare at that 9-inch monochrome screen for hours. I felt alone in my deep appreciation for Hypercard, which of course inspired me to invent the internet. The idea of linking documents with what was then called ‘hypertext’ was a stroke of genius. I saw the future gleaming so brightly. I loved computers so much I partnered with them to build a career in advertising. I always found that in every place I worked, I was the guy everyone called when their computers ceased to cooperate with them.

And then, of course, depression set it. It was briefly revived when I invented the internet, but I was under-capitalized and swallowed by larger investors. But still, these were incredible times. I recall the days when Google was a risqué search engine, and then it actually gave good search results. Information was available. Now, it spews forth SEO links at nanospeeds, linking to places groomed only to place in the top ten, and sell something. Sometimes these places are splattered with advertising we can try to sublimate, others are cruel cul-de-sacs of salesmanship. There is nothing in the entire neighborhood but something you have to buy. I reminisce of the days when I could get real information. The number of sites was in the millions, then a wondrous and daunting prospect—and now that many appear each day, and if my web surfing experience is any evidence, they are all marketing an e-book.

Yes, I long for the day when I could smirk when a major retailer would launch a website that had no e-commerce solution. I guess one point I make is that there is a threshold that one reaches, when you just don’t want to adapt anymore, you just don’t want any new information coming in, and certainly you don’t want to have to learn something new that would replace the way you already do something. Enter social media. Those two words were never put together in the history of language until Web 2.0, and I have already trained myself to revile at modern internet-age buzzwords. Social media is some catch-all phrase that is supposed to mean something, to carry some weight with people, a panacea for the upwardly mobile, clawing to rise from the swarm of the 99%, in the hopes that playing the game will vault them to the glory of the 1%. The way we are using the web is changing.

But is it?

Sure, there are a proliferation of blogs, and feeder sites, more porn than you would ever need, and a whole new way to socialize and play music and watch television and get news—but even if you adapt to web 2.0, by the time you have it will be old and stale. The techno-natives will be restless. My experience online now is very much push-pull. I am drawn away from it first. I have to unplug from it. The more we discover ways to connect to each other using technology, the farther apart we get from real contact with each other. I am drawn back in, usually because I catch some jubilation from our culture about some new phenomenon I must use to improve my life. So I reluctantly look into it, confronting my own technophobia in the process. Information and content (another word that was never used as it is now) is now aggregated, pushed, viral and instantaneous. We have new devices to obtain it. I spend more time on the internet while using my phone than I do in front of a computer or laptop, and I always experience this anxiety that this tiny device isn’t enough—that I will have to go to a bigger workstation and really get the information. And yet the same sensation washes through me when I get to my workstation. There is too much information, too much content, too many places I want to visit. And the device and the platform with which I can interface with this thing is far too limited.

Web 3.0 won’t be due for an upgrade until that problem is solved, and likely it won’t be to my satisfaction. What I want is a neural-network wireless subconscious implant. Free me from my devices. I don’t want a better phone, or a computer with more storage or faster processor. I want the information piped straight to my cerebral cortex with a decent method of organizing it. The browser has to go away. The screen has to go away. The whole interface has to be re-built, tossing away all assumptions we make as starting points. When this happens, you can revisit this post via your new interface and know that years ago I prophesied this. Trust the man who invented the internet.


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