A lot has changed since I first jumped on to the web; I can still remember watching the Netscape browser icon rotate and shine at me as I waited eagerly for some random .gif to load (perhaps it was the dancing banana or some flaming horizontal rule gif on a website).
I remember the rise of the Web 2.0 movement and how every corporate enterprise was high as fudge on “getting in” with it, without really knowing what they were really doing. I remember working during those years of Technorati and Flickr dominance and thinking meta data, meta data, meta data (all the things!).
We’ve moved on from that time but it feels like we’ve lost something in the process, right? Anil Dash shares the exact same feeling when he said:
The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we’ve lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.
He hasn’t given up hope, though, and knows that there’s a real potential for educating today’s technologists about the future through our past:
We’ll fix these things; I don’t worry about that. The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web.
But we’re going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.
This blog post, understandably, has become a very big hit among a number of different crowds and I knew it was only a matter of time before we actually catch him sharing it via video, which he did recently at a Berkman/Harvard talk:
If you want a transcript here’s one by David Weinberger, who was also the host.
If you’ve got some time this week it’s worth a listen – better yet, read the original blog post(s) to get a firm grasp on what Anil is presenting here. I think this really matters a lot and there’s enough for the open source community to think about in terms of not only how we create products but the communities that create them.