Coding with Jesse

The Timely Web

June 5th, 2006

Did you ever own a directory of the web? Like this big yellow pages book with every known web page on the Internet? I did. I never used it. I guess I skimmed through it, but it was very soon out of date. Not only were half the links gone, but there were so many new sites that just weren't included. The thing is like an antique now. It'll probably be in a museum one day.

A few years later, the web got bigger and bigger. Soon it was too big to be navigated by a book, and of course search engines took over. The web was filled with many new web pages, most "Under Construction", and we were told to "Check back soon". Still, it felt like we could conceivably read the whole Internet if just given enough time. What we didn't consider was that the growth of the Internet would never stop.

Now look at where we're at. It's impossible to stay up to date on the 10 or 100 or 1000 web sites we visit without using RSS feeds. Thanks to technorati, we can see what others are saying about a topic in nearly real time. We've been forced to give up trying to "surf" the whole web, and have mostly settled down into our niches with barely enough time to do even this.

With so much information to choose from, only the very newest is often paid attention to. When you arrive at a new site, or subscribe to a new blog, do you take the time to read all the old posts? Or do you just sign up and look forward to the next posts, the newest stuff. I know I rarely have time to go back and read older stuff.

The Internet is indeed a giant repository of information, but the way many of us are using the Internet is changing along with the web itself. The blogosphere isn't just a sign of the personal web, it's also a sign of the timely web. We're less interested with what others have said about a topic, now we want to know what they've said about it lately.