The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Preface To Some Thoughts, Part II

Posted by BigWords on March 30, 2010

I keep feeling that there is something missing in the overall thought process which has led to the next post (where I’ll start to properly tear current thinking apart so as to start again), and the only missing piece seems to be a primer of sorts. This could count, seeing as it should make clear the subtle and numerous irks and quibbles which mar the use of the internet – not the underlying framework, nor the vocabulary, nor the lack of imagination from some quarters, but a mixture of these – and more – which merely serves to undermine the experience.

Web 2.0

The biggest lie sold to people since “unlimited downloads” were trotted out by cynical service providers. There is no 2.0, and there certainly isn’t a 3.0 on the way – primarily because the internet doesn’t push forwards in unison, unveiling new and improved features from a certain date onwards. The introduction of Javascript support is generally held to be the point at which the 2.0 misnomer begins (though the phrase has been around since the late nineties), though many of the features wouldn’t be seen for several months on some sites now held to be at the forefront of this minor shift. A brief inspection of the internet will reveal that there are plenty of sites doing quite well, thankyouverymuch, without flashy interfaces and distracting ‘enhancements.’

Hell, if Tim Berners-Lee thinks the term is bullshit (my word, not his) then you have to question the motives of people using it .

Heirarchy

If you have ventured onto Wikipedia, you will have encountered this hilarious example of misunderstanding the very concept of the internet. I quote from Wikipedia itself:

References to blogs, personal websites and MySpace don’t count – we need reliable sources.

This undermines the importance of the majority of the internet in favor of ‘journalistic sources’ such as newspapers. I’m not convinced that there exists strata of verifiable information on the internet, with certain outlets more “reliable” than others. A way of looking at this problem brings up a long-held misconception about UseNet – re. “upstream” and “downstream” being used to describe the flow of information. It wasn’t the case then, and it isn’t the case now. I’ve watched some spectacular abuses of power play out where newspapers and televised news are concerned, looking on in disbelief as half-truths, myths and downright lies were paraded for a sensation-hungry audience. I tend to ignore any news source which doesn’t back up its’ reports with numerous references. There are benefits to be had from going straight to the source, so I make sure to see what blog posts by those involved in a story contain.

The most important piece of yet-to-be-created software is an answer to the frustration of having so many accounts in so many places. I have dashboards for WordPress, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, not to mention PayPal, Amazon Associates and other essential locations I need to check every once in a while. This, as anyone who spends time on the internet will know, is annoying. I want a page from which I can access all of these services and more, posting to places without leaving my main source of rolling, real-time information. And this is the kind of thinking which had been dominating the way I look at the world – find something which would make life immeasurably better, then expand on the core concept until you hit the absolute limit of technology. It is a world-view which not enough people have, because the world obviously doesn’t operate at maximum efficiency. We need to, as a species, look at our technology and see where we can lend evolution a hand here and there.

Scary, I know; change isn’t easy, but we have to push past the fear.

I’ve started with the problems inherent in the current state of the internet, so I may as well address some of the things which will crop up when I get into full swing. While I am going to use some technical terms over the course of my forthcoming Thoughts posts, I’ll try and keep the use of certain formats vague enough so as to apply across the board. I have my favorite formats, but it would limit discussion (and creativity) to set certain formats as being better than others in the minds of those who happen upon this.

I like using lossless audio and video files, but there is nothing to say that they have benefits across all categories, especially since they take up so much extra room on hard drives. The problems some people bring up in regards to size, though, is greatly overstated. Size is irrelevant. So that those who cannot conceive of e-books being anything other than in .pdf format are made aware of the existence of alternatives, there are much more interesting ways of wrapping digital multimedia books than you think.

Okay, I need to slip quietly away from that specific topic before I divulge too much, spoiling what is to come. Needless to say that a dictionary, or glossary, of geekabulary would be handy before you start reading the Thoughts in proper, but there shouldn’t be too many words I don’t explain – and if I, somehow, neglect to give proper context to something, feel free to call me out on it. This stuff is too important to me to be willfully obscure. I want people to start thinking about the ways in which they, under their own steam and by their own initiative, can start making things which truly live up to (and hopefully exceed) the standards and guidelines laid down by people who came before. The internet was never “designed” (another idea which some still hold dear), and the standards which were set down at various points were mostly people making shit up as they went along. General conventions and guidelines were only ever intended to make websites viewable by all, not as some rule which could never be broken.

One quick metaphor before I begin in earnest, because things have the potential to get very ugly very quickly unless I issue a statement up front about the meaning of the ideas which comprise this mini-serial of connected thoughts: There is enough room for everyone to do their own thing. I ain’t sayin’ this ‘n’ that is better than some other stuff, because – really and truly, I don’t see how that kind of thinking could benefit anyone. All of the stuff which follows is to be viewed as alternatives, variations, flavors, or whatever your description of choice may be.

Think of things described in the next few posts in the same way as, uh… Ice cream, yeah. The introduction of triple-chocolate ice cream didn’t kill off vanilla, and that’s as good an analogy as any. My thoughts are the triple chocolate, which – good as they may be – don’t negate, diminish or supercede any of the things which you may enjoy. Don’t worry. I dig that vanilla stuff just as much as anyone, and advances will never remove it entirely.

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