It’s short, but important, and still rings true five years later.
Web people see the web, and the internet, and networked communications technology as more than just a new infrastructure for sending bits of information around. Web people believe - and know from experience - that the web is more than that. It is a venue for personal expression. It can connect people and ideas in ways that were difficult or impossible previously. And it is a place - a place where people find themselves, each other, and look for bobo.
Dot-com people don’t understand what any of that means because they’re too busy thinking about how to make money. (Web people can make money too, they just understand that’s only one part of this thing called the web, and they care about the rest of it too.)
This distinction to me is at the heart of the controversy over Google’s new AutoLinking feature in their toolbar. (1)
If anyone I consider a “web person” were asked to evaluate the idea of this AutoLinking feature, I think they’d understand why people like Dave Winer react the way they do. (They might not agree with him entirely, or at all, but they’d understand the argument.)
How can we communicate with integrity if commercial interests modify our work without our permission just so they can make more money? That’s the way web people see it, I think, not as a user-experience improvement that happens leads to increased traffic for some web sites.
- As always, you should be advised that everything I say about Google is biased by the fact that they didn’t hire me. (Even though it was years ago.)