New_public published a post, Déjà Vu, All Over Again, about the evolution of the web and the early days when people made stuff for fun instead of companies making stuff for brand impact and algorithms, and it struck a chord. The author invited comments, so here's what I posted:
I've been feeling that deja vu too. I was on Usenet before the great renaming, and much later when I joined LiveJournal and this "blogging" thing (pulled in by friends), I remember thinking that a blog or LJ was basically alt.fan.me and would people really care about what I, a nobody, wrote? I expected to read and be read by about a dozen people who were already friends, but things have a way of spreading. And I knew that from Usenet, where I built friendships with people I've never met and sometimes didn't know "real" names for, and it was all very cool and friendly and broadening.
The net, when freed from algorithms and branding and bubbles so that ordinary people can interact with other ordinary people without barriers, is a remarkable way to learn about people and places and subcultures very different from my own. I've formed friendships from people halfway around the world walking very different paths in life from mine. There's a whole big world out there, and the last thing I want is to be trapped in a bubble of people just like me, or as close as Twitter et al think they can come to that.
The revival -- I hope it's a revival and not just a blip on the way to the next corporate thing -- of decentralized, direct, person-to-person online interaction excites me. Coincidentally, I've been working my way through my older posts on LiveJournal and then Dreamwidth, pulling together stuff on my own domain now that I have one, and I'm realizing how much more I used to write and share. I don't know how much of the change in my behavior has been due to people moving from blogs to social media and the vibe changing, how much has been due to modern social censors who retcon what's acceptable and what's offensive, and how much is me being more lazy or distracted or busy or whatever. But, facing the stark contrast to "online me 15 years ago" and "today", I'm motivated to try to get more of the old, personal, human writing back, somehow.