The History of the Web’s Monthly Blogroll, August 2018
Back in the earliest days of the web, some blogs used to have a blogroll. Somewhere on their site, usually in the sidebar, they’d list out a few links from their favorite blogs in no particular order. Before search and social media, the blogroll was key to discovery on the web and connected readers with stories and experiences they would never otherwise get a chance to see.
This is my blogroll.
This is the podcast episode that sent me on a massive research rabbit hole to uncover some of the history of monetization in publishing. It turns out a lot of the problems we face today, the whole business of publishing online, has already been played out in different mediums. If we look to our predecessors, we may even find better solutions, or at the very least, things to look out for. Planet Money always delivers solid segments, and this is no exception.
Chances are you’ve seen this piece by Amy Hoy that’s been making the rounds, but if you haven’t, now’s the perfect time to give it a read. Part personal-history, part manifesto, Hoy takes a trip through her own experience with blogging from the earliest days of the web to today to make a point we all seem to forget: a lot of blogs look exactly the same. And that followed organically and naturally from the spread of popular blogging tools which encouraged sameness over individual creative expression. The web used to have homepages, hand-crafted and entirely unique. Now all we have are a bunch of blogs.
I have a story about privacy and the behaviors of teens that I’m not quite ready to publish, but that’s how I stumbled upon this book. boyd is an expert in a lot of things on the Internet, but her deep dive into the effects of social media and networks on digital natives is particularly thorough. It was published four years ago, but it’s only more relevant today.
If Wiki’s are your thing, here’s an interesting look at the history of Wiki’s in Mental Floss. It goes way back to the beginning, with the creation of WikiWikiWeb in 1995. As for the future of Wiki’s? Well it might just be possible to put the power of wiki distribution back into the hands of users.
Tim Berners-Lee goes on record about what the current state of the web has wrought and why we’ve allowed the open web to become gated and corruptible. His solution seems to be to improve upon the technologies of the web and make it easier to build decentralized systems, as well as increased public outreach efforts. Only time will tell if the network effects of the web’s largest centralized platforms make them irreversible (let’s hope not).
I talk about the web’s past a lot on this blog, but I don’t often re-contextualize that past to make predictions about its future. Well that’s exactly what developer Brent Roose does in his musings on the technologies that shape the web, and the future they might have as the web approaches its 56th anniversary, almost 30 years from now. The web, of course, may look completely different, but maybe it can lead to a more interoperable world.