trenchant.org

by adam mathes
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Abandoned Idea

A long time ago (at least it seems like a long time ago, in reality it was probably only about a year and a half ago, but paradoxically in internet time everything is a perpetual present and yet instantly relegated to a distant past) I had this idea.

I wanted to have some sort of workshop or symposium in an effort to convince my fellow Stanford students to put things on the web, and show them how to begin to do so.

Almost everyone I knew had a computer. Almost everyone I knew used the web, but in a read-only fashion.

And I kept thinking, maybe I’m completely wrong and not surrounded by boring, unfunny dolts. Maybe they all have really great things to say and if they just got exposed to some of the stuff out there and shown some tools they’d start producing these great things, and there would be webzines and comics and homepages and galleries (and yes, even weblogs) and I could help foster some amazingly great online-offline community of personal web publishers at Stanford and it would be great.

This was the sort of thing I was vaguely thinking about when I was making Organizine.

Obviously, I never cared enough or had enough motivation to do anything even remotely like that and, let’s be honest, it would’ve never worked anyway. As far as I can tell, about the closest I got to any of this was making Ian start a Diaryland site.

I was thinking about this abandoned idea last week. I was out with some kids from the house (I call them kids even though they’re only a few years younger than me, it helps me maintain some illusion that as house manager I’m an authority figure.) I was wearing a Blogger t-shirt, and as often happens, somebody asked me what Blogger was.

The difference is this time I was actually with someone who used Blogger. I tried to explain what weblogs are (frequently updated websites that link to other sites and provide commentary on them) but that now most people use the tools intended for weblogs to just keep short-form journals which they call blogs, which I believe I referred to as the lowest-common-denominator of web content. (This is the conversation Mike is referring to. I, of course, used his site as an example of this trend.)

After about two minutes of trying to explain personal publishing, I decided to make them all watch Doug Block’s documentary Homepage.

Anyway, I don’t think I have a real point here, don’t think this is some sort of coherent essay, this is yet another piece of drivel.

It seems that there are at least a few people who keep personal websites here now, at least a lot more than a few years ago. I wonder how it will be in a few years.

Mostly though, I just wish I could’ve convinced a few key interesting people to start web sites.

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