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The Web Turns Thirty Years Old

     
1:42 pm on Mar 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sir Tim Berners Lee invented the www 30 years ago, today.
How the web has changed in that time!

Once again, he expresses his concern over the state of the web today, and especially with "downward plunge to a dysfunctional future"

[bbc.co.uk...]
5:32 pm on Mar 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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He has been quite vocal in recent times about the decline of the web and how it has steadily moved away from what it was intended to be. I can see his concerns.

Mack.
7:31 pm on Mar 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The web has come a long way but has regressed in many ways over the last few years.

I started a small BBS system back in the late 80's and then when dial-up up became popular I started my first small website in 1993.

The web was a fun place to explore, for me it was a new symbol of freedom and many fun learning experiences in programming, web development etc. I don't like a lot of what I'm seeing today, in many ways social and the big Google monopoly have killed a lot of things.

On occasion, I still long for the days of Gopher, lynx, Spry Mosaic, and Netscape, plus we had a lot more search engines back then (WebCrawler, HotBot Infoseek, and Alta Vista) not saying they were better but they did the job.

I know we can't go back but still a lot of awesome memories.
8:48 pm on Mar 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Anything that decentralises things would be a move in the right direction. Things are too homogenised.

I do miss seeing that frontpage/geocities kind of site that's a unique creation, way more character.
2:14 am on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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30?! So that's what's wrong with it. It thinks it's still a cool hip thing but this generation doesn't know life without it and looks at it differently.

The net can continue to be a great place where everyone is welcome to post content, offer advice, information, great stories, useful tools etc... until lines get crossed. Using it to generate billions of dollars for yourself in advertising and then trying to use it to teach voice AI to make search obsolete is probably not good for the net. Gathering personal data by the titanic load and using it for political and financial gain... definitely not a good thing.

The biggest threat to the net comes from the mega-corporations and gov, not from its users. Perhaps we need more safeguards against those who manage it, not from them?

Anyway, here's to 30 more. I knew life before email, mobile and social media and right now I like it better back then. That wasn't true 10 years ago, the net was still amazing then.

I know a great little site where the owner posts some really off the wall ideas. Sadly, unless I tell you the url, you will not find it in Google. Why not? He doesn't conform. Doesn't care if his idea is a paragraph long and not exactly 2217 words long for optimum results. Doesn't care if his titles are along the lines of "idea 17" or "idea 23 - revised" which tell google absolutely nothing... but tell the 50 or so who follow him everything.

Conform or you will not be found! I too miss geocities, man were there some funky looking sites on there that had great content anyway.
2:22 am on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just an idea - imagine a search engine that will only list websites that do not sell products, that do not have advertising and that do not have external links(no affiliate). The sites would not be generated by people who crave traffic for financial gain. We'd have our geocities back, and a much healthier non-financially driven place to do the sharing.

I bet a lot of bloggers would appreciate it since they don't blog for profit and get no traffic in g anyway. They'd have a better chance in google minus

[edited by: JS_Harris at 2:25 am (utc) on Mar 13, 2019]

2:25 am on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The web is moving to centralized computing and taking "personal" out of the equation. This has been happening since the first PC hit the market and broke the hold MAINFRAME had on billing "computer time" for institutions, business and government.

Anything that addresses that "collectivism" works for me ... sadly I am only one of several bazillion. :)

(They will take my PC NOT BEHOLDEN TO ANY OTHER) from my ... chuckles. :)
2:33 am on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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lol. Maybe the onus is on us. I would pledge to only link to sites that do not sell product, service or display affiliate/ads if there was such a movement. I'm not anti-capitalism, but the internet used to be about content sharing, not capitalism. When there's no money or benefit involved I bet all those perfect cookie-cutter sites created solely to score some ad revenue using (often) things they learned online somewhere else, would dry up.

I would applaud google for having a seperate index devoid of sites with advertising. Give people the choice again. Maybe the content blocker movement is onto something but Google could appease them by offering such a pristine index. Want in? Ditch the ads, offers and aff links.

Anyway... everyone has a theory. Only the mega-rich have a search engine.
3:57 am on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I still remember the moment that I understood the power of the web and that I wanted to be part of it: mid-90s, I was at my computer on the wet coast of Canada checking out a site in Australia and clicked a link that took me to a site in Italy. One click had taken me half way around the world. Half way around the world in less than a minute (33.6 kbit/s modem). It hit me again later that year as I was playing online bridge in real time 'around the Pacific' with the others being in San Francisco, Singapore, and Seoul.

I knew then that the human world had fundamentally changed. And that 'here be opportunity'. And monsters. Yes, they truly were lightbulb moments.

The web has (almost) always been about commercialism. However, it has also always been a hobbyist's frontier. And I've carried that old school idea of linking right along with my ad/af links. Back when Yahoo was a page or three discovery was a fascinating shared process. I used to spend hours following link lists and web rings :)

Unfortunately, artificial induced constraints have caused too many sites to believe that linking out bleeds (1) visitor value and (2) SE link value. Poppycock. I have several to many external links on most pages offering nothing but additional visitor value and goodwill. And always shall. The best remedy to the GIGO and filter bubbles of SEs is extensive out linking. Curated. Recommended. Just like 2-decades ago.
1:02 pm on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I don't have anything against ads, or shopping online. They've been there since the early days, and some great content was made possible through ad revenue. Being able to buy books online was a great thing for a tech guy like me, the selection was so much larger than any bookstore. Booking a flight so much easier than through a travel agent. Forums that grew huge and had to pay larger and larger bills via sponsors/ads (donations usually weren't enough). Ordering a pizza online to have delivered at the office during a late night coding marathon. Locating information about a company's products easily. Great advertising supported information sources be it funny, informational, or funny/informational (remember F'd Company?). Sites like pricewatch for finding the best hardware deals. All examples of positive commercial use in my view.

For me the issues are:

1. The growth of walled gardens trying to keep you in and not out on the general Internet finding things. I remember when AOL/Prodigy/etc. had their walled gardens and you had to purposely venture out of onto the greater overall Internet. Their users pushed so much to get rid of them. And now we've come full circle in many ways.

2. The collecting and more importantly, sharing of personal information, and having it follow you around the Internet. Its one thing to log into a forum covering home improvement and seeing ads for dishwashers when I'm in the dishwasher section - its quite another to visit a completely different site two days later and seeing dishwasher ads, or worse, getting on the Internet with another device and the "targetted" dishwasher ads have followed you there as well.

3. More government intervention and control, as well as the walled gardens controlling what people can and cannot say.

4. Consolidation of search from a large number of choices, each with their own style, to essentially Google with Bing as a distant second and everyone else fighting for the crumbs left over.

5. Consolidation of many different products/services under one corporate roof, Google being the largest example.

6. The haters, shout-downs, widescale personal character assassinations or stories pushed to generate clicks through outrage, over just about anything. Sure, there's always been some level of trolling and negativity, but its become the norm these days. The great thing about the Internet is any fool can voice their opinion, the worst thing about the Internet is they often do. Voices of reason don't get the attention, idiots and fools do. Its great that more and more people are online and getting online, but in my opinion, we've seen an overall dumbing down of the Internet as the barriers to access have lessened.
4:43 pm on Mar 13, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I miss the days when the Web consisted solely of useful academic content, like the Webcam of a coffeepot at Cambridge University and the real-time temperature readings from a soda machine at a university in western Australia. :-)
9:27 pm on Mar 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I'd love it if we could go back to the olden days where the web was essentially a combination of an encyclopedia/how to/why does...

Many of those sites do still exist - they're now relegated to page 2,014 in the SERPs.

Over the last few years I have found it harder and harder to get my questions answered by Google because of the dross of sites selling items.

"How to paint blue widgets red" yield thousands of listings covering:

a) Blue paint
b) Red Paint
c) Buy Blue Paint
d) Buy Red Paint
e) Buy Blue/Red Paint
f) Buy Blue Widgets
g) Buy Red Widgets

Some 15 years ago a clever person wrote an excellent article on "How to paint blue widgets red", it was once featured quite prominent in Google, now it is drowned out by a) to g) above.

In frustration put your search term into other search engines and you could be forgiven for believing they only rent out Google's data base and algorithms.

I suppose I probably do about 20 searches a day on average, most are easy - but the esoteric "How To's" are now buried.

[ADDED] One of the best additions to the WWW has been self help forums of the type where you can ask questions from like minded people. In Australian one of the best is Whirlpool which seems to cover not only every topic under the sun but attracts experts as well as representatives of many organisations alert to complaints, e.g. your ISP

Make a genuine complaint where you hadn't received help from whoever you were dealing with, and don't be surprised if a company troubleshooter replies to your post.

Whirlpool: [forums.whirlpool.net.au ]

[edited by: IanCP at 9:44 pm (utc) on Mar 14, 2019]

9:32 pm on Mar 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sadly, searches such as "paint red widgets blue" -adsense -doubleclick simply do not work. (sigh)

However, try it and be a little surprised at the results!
9:45 pm on Mar 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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See my addendum