Point of Origin

Point of OriginWhat's happening in the present can be interesting, and often vital. But what happened in the past is the foundation of the present; it shows us how we got to the present point, and why. This is the obvious value of history, but sometimes it's just plain fun to leaf through the old photo albums and diaries to see how things looked at the time, and what thoughts were running about in the mind of the diarist. Thanks to the Internet and those who use it, historical perspective is just a Google away.

In 2001, blogs were just beginning to show on the radars of those who note the vectors of Net phenomena. Interpretation concerning velocity and heading of these new objects varied, but most agreed they were worth watching regardless of their ultimate point of impact. One Nicholas G. Carr happened to be tracking the bogies at that time, and left his impressions in a Web-based time capsule in the form of an article he called Plastic Medium.

Having spent a couple of days reading blogs, I can report that the vast majority are puerile in the extreme - the random droolings of adolescent minds. But the individual blogs aren't what make Blogger important; it's the way the blogs connect with one another. Blogs typically are filled with links to other blogs, and in browsing through them you soon realize that they form the communications infrastructure for tightly knit, often extraordinarily intimate Web communities. People share their lives through their blogs. (Yes, this was always the promise of the Web, but Blogger actually delivers on it.)

It's probably worth noting that, at the time, the Blogger application hadn't yet been absorbed by Google; it was still owned and operated by its developer, Pyra Labs. But that—and puerile content—aside, the linking factor was identified as a crucial element in the new application. Mr. Carr also noted that "people, mostly teenagers and college students, use blogs to broadcast to the world moment-by-moment accounts of their lives." Obviously, this hasn't changed, and at the same time, my, how things have changed.

Another interesting point, and one perhaps more poignant in light of the recent YouTube acquisition, is where the new killer apps typically come from.

. . . the most revolutionary applications tend to emerge not from commercial organizations but from passionate amateurs - from people more interested in doing something cool than in making money.

Well, there's that passionate amateurs phrase again. Is it my imagination, or is the term frequently applied in the context of citizen journalism and new media lately?

Unlike traditional media, the Internet provides individuals with unprecedented power to shape what they do, how they do it and whom they do it with.

It isn't my imagination. It's déjà vu!

Adapting to the radical malleability of the Internet will become all the more important as time passes. An entire generation is now learning to manipulate the Net in ways that few adults can even imagine. Call it Generation Blog.

So putting it all together, we have passionate amateurs more interested in doing something cool than making money, and an entire generation learning to manipulate the Net in ways few adults can even imagine. I think I'll call it Generation Progressive. Maybe that random drooling acts as some sort of lubricant?


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