Creative Commons

2007-08-15 15:50:16

What Happened to the Internet?

The internet has come a long way in it's short existence. But it seems that the parts of the internet that are valuable grow exponentially less than the parts that are invaluable. Let me explain.
Back in the day, only smart people had a web site. Yes, I wanted that to sound smug. It used to be that if you didn't know how to code HTML by hand, you didn't have a web site. Because of that, only people in the technology industry, or those striving to be, would take the time to learn the language. It is those people who, since then, have bettered the internet with their contributions. They want to learn better ways to accomplish things. They contribute to open source software. Heck, they may have written the software you're using right now. These people don't take the internet for granted. Nothing is handed to them on a silver platter. They worked long and hard to carve out their piece of the internet.
It used to be that having your own web site carried along with it a certain amount of prestige. It was for the elite. Some (depending on their age) might say it was for the hackers, or nowadays geeks. But either way, having a presence on the internet meant something. What happened?
I think we all remember the days of Geocities. For me, that is where the internet spawned an evil twin, occupying the same space but taking over our attention. With the onslaught of online WYSIWYG (What You See If What You Get) editors and the maturing of fat WYSIWYG editors (Frontpage), the internet was opened to the masses. No longer did you need to understand anything, at all, about how HTML worked, or how the internet worked. You could just pick some stuff from a drop down box, type some text, drag a picture, and voila, instant web site.
Some may say, what about WordPress? What about Blogspot? Without knowing their origins, I can almost guarantee that every popular CMS (Content Management System), for those uneducated among us, that is basically what applications like WordPress and Blogspot are, was created for a single purpose, to make the author's life easier. Why do I think that? Because I did the same thing. Before this current version of my web site, every page was it's own file. It sucked to update things, because one minor change meant you had to update 20 files. It took forever. So what did I do? I wrote a CMS. Now editing my site is painless. The authors of WordPress et. al just took that idea one step further. They thought, "I did this for myself, but with a little more work anyone could use this." So that's what they did. And WordPress is a great application (as long as it isn't being Dugg), that's not my argument. My problem with WordPress is that uneducated people who don't have a clue about technology are signing up for a domain, selecting WordPress from the list, and making a site with zero knowledge. Now honestly, where else does this happen? A garage band just doesn't walk up to Wembley Stadium, hop on stage, and play for 50,000 people, it doesn't work like that. You have to be good, really good, and you have to get your name out there. You have to be somebody before you strut your stuff for the masses. A 16 year old kid can't walk into a college classroom and deliver a lecture on differential calculus. It doesn't work like that. You have to know something. You have to be good at it. You have to have credibility.
Why then do we allow the internet to be substandard? If every other aspect of life demands credibility, why do we allow anything with a pulse to throw their garbage onto the internet? It's not about the freedom of speech. It's not about not leaving technophobes behind. It's about principle. The internet is turning into New Jersey. Soon it will be full of garbage and we won't be able to see anything worthwhile.
Intelligent people take heed; hackers, spammers, anyone who intimately understands the internet. Stop focusing all of your talent on filling up peoples mailboxes and defacing government websites. If you want to do something worthwhile, start taking out the garbage!


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