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Unraveling the web's story


Want to Get in Touch? and a November 2020 Weblog

Recently, I’ve been told that my email has been bouncing some messages back, so if you tried to email me in the last few months, I probably didn’t get it. I’m working on it, but in the meantime I setup a new email, so please reach out at jaywebhistory@gmail.com

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading this month.

Notes on Web3

Let me start by saying, I don’t know what to say about Web3. Yet. Web 2.0 was a fancy way of saying web + AJAX. Web3 appears to be web + blockchain. Not that’s not useful, but I find the criticisms more nuanced and impactful than the echoing Twitter crowd that would prefer to shout counter-arguments down. Two in particular have stood out. In Notes on Web3, Robin Sloan lays out Web3 more as a continuation of market forces on the web than it is anything new or novel. The Handwavy Technobabble Nothingburger goes a step further, seeing the emerging technologies as little more than enabling crime and con-artists. Both are worth a read.

A Proper History of CouchSurfing

Over at Input Mag, Andrew Fedorov penned Paradise lost: The rise and ruin of Couchsurfing.com, one of the earliest examples of hospitality exchange, like Airbnb before it became a hotel substitute. Members of Couchsurfing.com offer up their couch for travelers. For free. But from that has come an almost cult-like following—led by its strong-willed, controversial founder—and incredible history that runs through several of the web’s commercial iterations.

The Dot.Bomb

After finishing up my chapter on the browser wars, I’m taking a turn into web commercialization. My research right now is on the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000’s. A couple of interesting finds so far. One is a story of the sports retailer Boo.com, who’s founders got a reputation for the most lavish displays of wealth in an already garish era. Another is an old story from CBS about Silicon Alley, a tech scene I have always found fascinating. The last was learning more about what’s sometimes known as the “Greenspan put”, a policy by former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan to use the Fed to correct stock markets when risky or out of control market bubbles spiraled on Wall Street. It’s a policy that’s alarmingly still being used today.