History Repeating

Album Cover: The Downward Spiral

"Everything's blue in this world...the deepest shade of mushroom blue."
NIN / The Downward Spiral

Posted on March 11, 2004 6:37 PM in Blogging
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

One thing that I've noticed as blogging has become more and more popular is that the World Wide Web is starting to look a lot like it did when I first started using it, back in 1994 and 1995. I remember around that time the Web's early adopters were putting up personal web pages just because they could (me included). This meant that doing a search on any random set of words (I think I was using Yahoo! at that time) would provide you with a number of "hyperlinks" (it was still cool to say it that way back then) pointing into the far corners of the web. However, back then a search for the phrase "avoiding corn" didn't return 112,000 results – trust me, I remember.

I now consider Feedster to be the new search engine of choice for finding websites and blogs by random people. You don't have to weed through pages of commercial links, and chances are after a page or two of results you've found someone truly random with something interesting to say. The only downside is, much like the mid-90s, all of these pages are starting to look the same. Back in '94 and '95 it was mostly because HTML was so weak, but nevertheless people were making tons of pages with gray backgrounds and rainbow-colored horizontal rows that were written entirely in Times New Roman. Nowadays the pages look better, for sure, but it isn't difficult to come across two blogs that look the exact same. Check out kisu and Fishing for Frod or Every Single Thing in the World and and they all lived happily ever after to see what I mean.

Now granted, this problem lies mostly in the fact that there are services like Blogger and LiveJournal out there providing a set of templates for their many users to use, and to be perfectly fair I am sure they have gone out of their way to provide users with quite a few to choose from, but when you have thousands and thousands of users choosing from a set of even 100 templates there are going to be instances of overlap no matter what.

Now you might be asking, "is the Web returning to what it looked like in the mid-90s such a bad thing?" I don't know. I'm sure there are some out there who wish all web pages looked the same, and certainly when you come across a template you've seen before you have a better chance of finding the content you're interested in much more efficiently. However, I am a huge fan of individuality and web pages that are awe inspiring. The mid-90s were interesting times without a doubt, and who knows if I ever would have pursued web design if the Web looked like it does today back when I first started using it, but I wouldn't mind if we never regressed to that state again.

Just as an aside, there is one trend I've noticed among the new blogs and websites that are popping up that I think is quite interesting. While designs may not necessarily be as unique across the board, it is virtually impossible to find two blogs or websites these days that have the same exact name. My first home page started out as "Bernie Zimmermann's Home Page" and eventually evolved to what it is today – nothing more than "Bernie Zimmermann." But then again, my name is pretty friggin' unique on its own. However, I rarely see "John Doe's Personal Web Page" anymore – instead it's The Realm of Arcanius or V.007 /:/-I'm g00d-/:/.

As the Web has grown, and we've been forced to learn how to think up strong passwords and super unique user names that would even work on AOL's service, I think everyone has found their own way to be unique and different. In that sense, the Web is still fresh and ever-evolving.

I may blog more on this later on. There are a lot of sides to this interesting phenomenon, and one of them (which I think could be the biggest and most relevant to the near future) involves the idea of syndicated content and content feeds. And then there's the idea of retrieving content without ever seeing it at all. The evolution has only just begun.

Comments

owen on May 18, 2004 at 9:24 AM:

many people on the web few geeks few have access to geeks dooce.com but the hardest part I found is finding new ways for people to interact with your site.

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