by Leslie Harpold
I was amazed the first time I had net access that I could spend three hours rifling through USENET posts after a three day break from logging on. I was shocked when I first realized I had to check email every day, instead of the twice a week standard I thought had gotten a little excessive. Now, I have a phone line plugged in 24/7 and my email is is always open. When I'm not home Eudora diligently queries the server every ten minutes to see if someone has something important to say to me, or a list of like-minded mes about this that and most of all, the other thing.
Daily, I surf. Not like I used to, aimlessly from link to link, but now - with intent, passion and tasks in mind, even if the task is just "absorb a little eye candy" or "learn something new" I feel completely in control as I navigate the web. I rarely end up anywhere by accident, as the links lists of so few are to be trusted. So, when I find a gem, I do what you do, email it to a few people who are equally jaded, and bored and unimpressed, in the same way that someone would turn someone on to a favorite hidden cafe or some obscure record.
Okay, I don't have any favorite hidden cafes either, but I live in Manhattan and I'm open to suggestions. What this recommendation system has founded is a trust culture. I know who gives me good writing,a and those who mistake a lot of writing for quality. I know who finds the real deal and who finds very tidy looking pages and mistakes them for good design. A 16 year old with a copy of Dreamweaver is a far cry from the folks at Scroll who use functionality in a breathtaking way and then present high quality text worthy of the code that holds it in place.
With the glut of web sites created every day theres simply no motivation to go exploring, each one seems to be a diluted version of the last one, or just like the last one but blue. It's getting too rare that you find something refreshing that makes you feel like the scope and range of possibility is just limitless. We've matured, in general as an audience beyond cool tricks for the sake of cool tricks and have begun to wish for something more toothsome, engaging, informative, more more more. I don't want free anonymous email, I just want something that won't make me feel all jaded and cynical about a medium in it's infancy.
You'd think, with the way I'm talking that I had an answer, or that I'd make a call to action, but I think what's most being ignored is the culture of trust. Tastemakers, and taste recognizers have value, whole alliances are built based on shared exit link lists. Deciding who to trust and then realizing how much, although created as a tool for self reliance and the expedition of tasks, our computers are turning us into a whole other kind of interdependent.
I'm all for this. It is by communication our cerebral desires and passions to one another we start to define our own experiences and create new ones, because we have finally developed a concern for quality of experience. That, more than anything is what will raise the bar. If you're not willing to create it, demand it. Then tell me what you want and who you trust.
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