Notes from the field, from internet past ☎️ to internet present 📱
Over 2021, I’ve had two parallel writing projects on the go. One, a weekly column tracking the latest trends in web development, published on The New Stack (where I work). Two, an indie website called Web Development History (WDH), where I write 1-2 articles per month chronicling internet history from a developer perspective.
So, I have been writing about both the history of web dev and the present (and the near future, in the case of metaverse).
I’ve decided to add a third writing project, that will bridge these two worlds: internet past and internet present. I wanted a place where I can reminisce about Web 2.0 and opine about Web3 in the same breath. But I don’t want it to be formal. No columns or articles here. I just want to...blog. Make notes. Be nostalgic, while thinking about the future.
My plan is to publish one newsletter per week, every Thursday (US), so I promise it won’t agitate your inbox.
This will be focused on internet culture, in addition to web technology. Some of you may recall that internet culture was my core focus in the original version of Cybercultural (hence the name). I’m never just interested in web development for its own sake; I always want to explore its impact on our culture — music, media, movies, metaverses, and more.
Aside: I plan to add more of an internet culture flavour to WDH in 2022 as well, so writing a weekly newsletter will help me hone that style. I’ll explain more about my plan for “season 2” of WDH later (it’ll be about the era known as Web 2.0).
I’ll no doubt tweak the format of this newsletter over 2022, but let’s get this reboot underway…
Notes from the Present 📱
Love it or hate it, the term “Web3” has quickly become the latest catchphrase in Silicon Valley. In a recent column I wrote for The New Stack, I compared the current Web3 hype to Web 2.0, which I lived through and chronicled on ReadWriteWeb.
The Matrix NFT Avatars were sold this week for $50 a pop. Neatly sums up two big trends this year: Web3 and metaverse. We don’t yet know what either of those terms mean, in a technical sense. But given the craziness of the 2020s so far, it wouldn’t surprise me if we are in fact living in a simulation. Strap in, folks — our internet culture will only get weirder in 2022.
Back to the real world now…The Web Almanac has just been released 🤓 I’ll be poring over this in the coming weeks.
I enjoyed the following ‘state of the web’ by Jeremy Keith, whose dulcet voice paired with the stylish imagery of the presentation were a delight. Note: although it’s billed as the state of the Web, it starts with a cosmos-themed history of it.
Notes from the Past ☎️
My three most recent posts on Web Development History focus on the years 1990-92, when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web (1990) and then tried to get it adopted by skeptical hypertext users (1991). Unlike the current fast-moving crypto hype, the early Web was a slow burner. As I noted in the intro of my 1993 post:
Throughout 1992, there were just a scattering of websites on the World Wide Web — somewhere between ten and twenty. A W3C page from late 1992 lists less than 30 web servers online at the time (not all of them had web sites attached to them). So the Web in 1992 was still a niche system, used almost entirely by academics. However, there were signs that the Web was starting to get noticed by people who used other internet protocols, like Gopher.
Stay tuned for my 1993 writeup, when Marc Andreessen’s Mosaic browser enters the picture. That’s when the Web really starts to ramp up.
I’ve been loving Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary, Get Back, currently streaming on Disney+. Lots of reminders of a pre-internet age…
This tweet summed it up:
Don’t worry though, the internet always finds a way to incorporate nostalgia 👇 Here’s a landline telephone with a tablet in place of the dial pad. Genius. (via Niki Tonsky)
One More Thing 📞
2021 ain’t over yet. Still time for further bonkers Techmeme stories, like Jack Dorsey’s Square changing its name to Block.
See you next week! Do reach out by email (just hit reply) or on Twitter (@ricmac) if you have any content suggestions, or just want to touch base.